Skip to main content

Full text of "Ends And Means"

See other formats









Short Stories 

^ LIMBO * 







Essays and Belles Lettres 







1HXTS AND PRETEXTS (Antliology) 


into the Nature of Ideals) * 


-^ JESTING PILATE (Illustrated) 


Poetry and Drama 

including early poems, Leda, The Cicadas 
and The World of Light, a Comedy) 

* Issued in this Collected Edition 1946 


Ends and Means 

An Enquiry 

into the Nature of Ideals 

and into the Methods employed 

for their Realisation 


Chatto & Windus 


Oxford University Press 















K. WAR 89 







INDEX 331 

Chapter I 


A3OUT the ideal goal of human effort there exists in 
our civilization and, for nearly thirty centuries, there 
has existed a very general agreement. From Isaiah to 
Karl Marx the prophets have spoken with one voice. In 
the Golden Age to which they look forward there will be 
liberty, peace, justice and brotherly love. 'Nation shall no 
more lift sword against nation'; 'the free development of 
each will lead to the free development of all'; 'the world 
shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters 
cover the sea/ 

With regard to the goal, I repeat, there is and for long 
has been a very general agreement. Not so with regard 
to the roads which lead to that goal. Here unanimity and 
certainty give place to utter confusion, to the clash of 
contradictory opinions, dogmatically held and acted upon 
with the violence of fanaticism. 

There are some who believe and it is a very popular 
belief at the present time that the royal road to a better 
world is the road of economic reform. For some, the 
short cut to Utopia is military conquest and the hegemony 
of one particular nation; for others, it is armed revolution 
and the dictatorship of a particular class. All these think 
mainly in terms of social machinery and large-scale organiza- 
tion. There are others, however, who approach the 
problem from the opposite end, and believe that desirable 
social changes can be brought about most effectively by 
changing the individuals who compose society. Of the 
A 1 


people who think in this way, some pin their faith to 
education, some to psycho-analysis, some to applied 
behaviourism. There are others, on the contrary, who 
believe that no desirable 'change of heart* can be brought 
about without supernatural aid. There must be, they 
say, a return to religion. (Unhappily, they cannot agree 
on the religion to which the return should be made.) 

At this point it becomes necessary to say something 
about that ideal individual into whom the changers of 
heart desire to transform themselves and others. Every 
age and class has had its ideal. The ruling classes in 
Greece idealized the magnanimous man, a sort of scholar- 
and-gentleman. Kshatriyas in early India and feudal nobles 
in mediaeval Europe held up the ideal of the chivalrous 
man. The honnete homme makes his appearance as the 
ideal of seventeenth-century gentlemen; the philosophe, as 
the ideal of their descendants in the eighteenth century. 
The nineteenth century idealized the respectable man. The 
twentieth has already witnessed the rise and fall of the 
liberal man and the emergence of the sheep-like social 
man and the god-like Leader. Meanwhile the poor and 
downtrodden have always dreamed nostalgically of $ man 
ideally well-fed, free, happy and unoppressed. 

Among this bewildering multiplicity of ideals which 
shall we choose? The answer is that we shall choose 
none. For it is clear that each one of these contradictory 
ideals is the fruit of particular social circumstances. To 
some extent, of course, this is true of every thought and 
aspiration that has ever been formulated. Some thoughts 
and aspirations, however, are manifestly less dependent on 
particular social circumstances than others. And here a 
significant fact emerges : all the ideals of human behaviour 
formulated by those who have been most successful in 
freeing themselves from the prejudices of their time and 
place are singularly alike. Liberation from prevailing con- 

ventions of thought, feeling and behaviour is accomplished 
most effectively by the practice of disinterested virtues and 
through direct insight into the real nature of ultimate 
reality. (Such insight is a gift, inherent in the individual; 
but, though inherent, it cannot manifest itself completely 
except where certain conditions are fulfilled. The principal 
pre-condition of insight is, precisely, the practice of dis- 
interested virtues.) To some extent critical intellect is 
also a liberating force. But the way in which intellect is 
used depends upon the will. Where the will is not dis- 
interested, the intellect tends to be used (outside the 
non-human fields of technology, science or pure mathe- 
matics) merely as an instrument for the rationalization of 
passion and prejudice, the justification of self-interest. 
That is why so few even of die acutest philosophers have 
succeeded in liberating themselves completely from the 
narrow prison of their age and country. It is seldom 
indeed that they achieve as much freedom as the mystics 
and the founders of religion. The most nearly free 
men have always been those who combined virtue with 

Now, among these freest of human beings there has 
been, for the last eighty or ninety generations, substantial 
agreement in regard to the ideal individual. The enslaved 
have held up for admiration now this model of a man, 
now that; but at all times and in all places, the free have 
spoken with only one voice. 

It is difficult to find a single word that will adequately 
describe the ideal man of the free philosophers, the mystics, 
the founders of religions. 'Non-attached* is perhaps the 
best. The ideal man is the non-attached man. Non- 
attached to his bodily sensations and lusts. Non-attached 
to his craving for power and possessions. Non-attached 
to the objects of these various desires. Non-attached to 
his anger and hatred; non-attached to his exclusive loves. 


Non-attached to wealth, fame, social position. Non- 
attached even to science, art, speculation, philanthropy. 
Yes, non-attached even to these. For, like patriotism, in 
Nurse CavelTs phrase, 'they are not enough/ Non- 
attachment to self and to what are called 'the things of 
this world 9 has always been associated in the teachings of 
the philosophers and the founders of religions with attach- 
ment to an ultimate reality greater and more significant 
than the self. Greater and more significant than even the 
best things that this world has to offer. Of the nature 
of this ultimate reality I shall speak in the last chapters 
of this book. All that I need do in this place is to point 
out that the ethic of non-attachment has always been 
correlated with cosmologies that affirm the existence of a 
spiritual reality underlying the phenomenal world and im- 
parting to it whatever value or significance it possesses. 

Non-attachment is negative only in name. The practice 
of non-attachment entails the practice of all the virtues. 
It entails the practice of charity, for example; for there 
are no more fatal impediments than anger (even 'righteous 
indignation 9 ) and cold-blooded malice to the identification 
of the self with the immanent and transcendent more-than- 
self. It entails the practice of courage; for fear is a painful 
?nd obsessive identification of the self with its body. 
(Fear is negative sensuality, just as sloth is negative malice.) 
It entails the cultivation of intelligence; for insensitive 
stupidity is a main root of all the other vices. It entails 
the practice of generosity and disinterestedness; for avarice 
and the love of possessions constrain their victim to 
equate themselves with mere things. And so on. It is 
unnecessary any further to labour the point, sufficiently 
obvious to anyone who chooses to think about the matter, 
that non-attachment imposes upon those who would 
practise it the adoption of an intensely positive attitude 
towards the world. 

The ideal of non-attachment has been formulated and 
systematically preached again and again in the course of 
the last three thousand years* We find it (along with 
everything else!) in Hinduism. It is at the very heart of 
the teachings of the Buddha. For the Chinese the doctrine 
is formulated by Lao Tsu. A little later, in Greece, the 
ideal of non-attachment is proclaimed, albeit with a certain 
pharisaic priggishness, by the Stoics. The Gospel of 
Jesus is essentially a gospel of non-attachment to 'the 
things of this world/ and of attachment to God. What- 
ever may have been the aberrations of organized Chris- 
tianity and they range from extravagant asceticism to the 
most brutally cynical forms of realpolitik there has been 
no lack of Christian philosophers to reaffirm the ideal of 
non-attachment. Here is John Tauler, for example, telling 
us that * freedom is complete purity and detachment which 
seeketh the Eternal; an isolated, a withdrawn being, 
identical with God or entirely attached to God.' Here is 
the author of The Imitation, who bids us 'pass through 
many cares as though without care; not after the manner 
of a sluggard, but by a certain prerogative of a free mind, 
which does not cleave with inordinate affection to any 
creature/ One could multiply such citations almost in- 
definitely. Meanwhile, moralists outside the Christian 
tradition have affirmed the need for non-attachment no 
less insistently than the Christians. What Spinoza, for 
example, calls * blessedness* is simply the state of non- 
attachment; his 'human bondage/ the condition of one 
who identifies himself with his desires, emotions and 
thought-processes, or with their objects in the external 

The non-attached man is one who, in Buddhist phrase- 
ology, puts an end to pain; and he puts an end to pain, 
not only in himself, but also, by refraining from malicious 
and stupid activity, to such pain as he may inflict on 



others. He is the happy or * blessed' man as well as the 
good man. 

A few moralists of whom Nietzsche is the most 
celebrated and the Marquis de Sade the most uncom- 
promisingly consistent have denied the value of non- 
attachment. But these men are manifestly victims of their 
temperament and their particular social surroundings. 
Unable to practise non-attachment, they are unable to 
preach it; themselves slaves, they cannot even understand 
the advantages of freedom. They stand outside the great 
tradition of civilized Asiatic and European philosophy. In 
the sphere of ethical thought they are eccentrics. Similarly 
such victims of particular social circumstances as Machiavelli, 
Hegel and the contemporary philosophers of Fascism and 
dictatorial Communism, are eccentrics in the sphere of 
political thought. 

Such, then, are the ideals for society and for the individual 
which were originally formulated nearly three thousand 
years ago in Asia, and which those who have not 
broken with the tradition of civilization still accept. 
In relation to these ideals, what are the relevant con- 
temporary facts? They may be summed up very briefly. 
Instead of advancing towards the ideal goal, most of 
the peoples of the world are rapidly moving away 
from it. 

'Real progress/ in the words of Dr. R. R. Marett, 
'is progress in charity, all other advances being secondary 
thereto.* In the course of recorded histoiy real progress 
has been made by fits and starts. Periods of advance in 
charity have alternated with periods of regression. The 
eighteenth century was an epoch of real progress. So was 
most of the nineteenth, in spite of the horrors of indus- 
trialism, or rather because of the energetic way in which 
its men of good will tried to put a stop to those horrors. 
The present age is still humanitarian in spots; but where 


major political issues are concerned, it has witnessed a 
definite regression in charity. 

Thus, eighteenth-century thinkers were unanimous in 
condemning the use of torture by the State. Not only is 
torture freely used by the rulers of twentieth-century 
Europe; there are also theorists who are prepared to 
justify every form of State-organized atrocity, from flogging 
and branding to the wholesale massacre of minorities and 
general war. Another painfully significant symptom is 
the equanimity with which the twentieth-century public 
responds to written accounts and even to photographs 
and moving pictures of slaughter and atrocity. By way of 
excuse it may be urged that, during the last twenty years, 
people have supped so full of horrors, that horrors no 
longer excite either their pity for the victims or their 
indignation against the perpetrators. But the fact of 
indifference remains; and because nobody bothers about 
horrors, yet more horrors are perpetrated. 

Closely associated with the regression in charity is the 
decline in men's regard for truth. At no period of the 
world's history has organized lying been practised so 
shamelessly or, thanks to modern technology, so efficiently 
or on so vast a scale as by the political and economic 
dictators of the present century. Most of this organized 
lying takes the form of propaganda, inculcating hatred and 
vanity, and preparing men's minds for war. The principal 
aim of the liars is the eradication of charitable feelings 
and behaviour in the sphere of international politics. 

Another point; charity cannot progress towards univer- 
sality unless the prevailing cosmology is either monotheistic 
or pantheistic unless there is a general belief that all men 
are 'the sons of God* or, in Indian phrase, that 'thou art 
that/ tat tvam asi. The last fifty years have witnessed 
a great retreat from monotheism towards idolatry. The 
worship of one God has been abandoned in favour of the 


worship of such local divinities as the nation, the class 
and even the deified individual. 

Such is the world in which we find ourselves a world 
which, judged by the only acceptable criterion of progress, 
is manifestly in regression. Technological advance is 
rapid. But without progress in charity, technological 
advance is useless. Indeed, it is worse than useless. 
Technological progress has merely provided us with more 
efficient means for going backwards. 

How can the regression in charity through which we 
are living, and for which each one of us is in some measure 
responsible, be halted and reversed? How can existing 
society be transformed into the ideal society described by 
the prophets? How can the average sensual man and the 
exceptional (and more dangerous) ambitious man be trans- 
formed into those non-attached beings, who alone can 
create a society significantly better than our own? These 
are the questions which I shall try to answer in the present 

In the process of answering them, I shall be compelled 
to deal with a very great variety of subjects. Inevitably; 
for human activity is complex, human motivation ex- 
ceedingly mixed. By many writers, this multifariousness 
of men's thoughts, opinions, purposes and actions is 
insufficiently recognized. Over-simplifying the problem, 
they prescribe an over-simplified solution. Because of this 
I have thought it necessary to preface the main arguments 
of the book with a discussion of the nature of explanation. 
What do we mean when we say that we have * explained* 
a complex situation? What do we mean when we talk 
of one event being the cause of another ? Unless we know 
the answer to these questions, our speculations regarding 
the nature and cure of social disorders are likely to be 
incomplete and one-sided. 

Our discussion of the nature of explanation brings us 



to the conclusion that causation in human affairs is multiple 
in other words, that any given event has many causes. 
Hence it follows that there can be no single sovereign 
cure for the diseases of the body politic. The remedy for 
social disorder must be sought simultaneously in many 
different fields. Accordingly, in the succeeding chapters, 
I proceed to consider the most important of these fields of 
activity, beginning with the political and economic and 
proceeding to the fields of personal behaviour. In every 
case I suggest the kind of changes that must be made if 
men are to realize the ideal ends at which they all profess 
to be aiming. This involves us, incidentally, in a dis- 
cussion of the relation of means to ends. Good ends, 
as I have frequently to point out, can be achieved only 
by the employment of appropriate means. The end 
cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious 
reason that the means employed determine the nature of 
the ends produced. 

These chapters, from the second to the twelfth, con- 
stitute a kind of practical cookery book of reform. They 
contain political recipes, economic recipes, educational 
recipes, recipes for the organization of industry, of local 
communities, of groups of devoted individuals. They 
also contain, by way of warning, descriptions of the way 
things ought not to be done recipes for not realizing 
the ends one professes to desire, recipes for stultifying 
idealism, recipes for paving hell with good intentions. 

This cookery book of reform culminates in the last 
section of the book, in which I discuss the relation existing 
between the theories and the practices of reformers on the 
one hand and the nature of the universe on the other. 
What sort of world is this, in which men aspire to good 
and yet so frequently achieve evil? What is the sense 
and point of the whole affair? What is man's place in it 
and how are his ideals, his systems of values, related to 


the universe at large? It is with such questions that 
shall deal ,in the last three chapters. To the 'practic 
man* they may seem irrelevant. But in fact they are no 
It is in the light of our beliefs about the ultimate natui 
of reality that we formulate our conceptions of right an 
wrong; and it is in the light of our conceptions of rig! 
and wrong that we frame our conduct, not only in th 
relations of private life, but also in the sphere of politic 
and economics. So far from being irrelevant, our mete 
physical beliefs are the finally determining factor in a 
our actions. That is why it has seemed to me necessar 
to round off my cookery book of practical recipes with 
discussion of first principles. The last three chapters ar 
the most significant and, even from the purely practice 
point of view, the most important in the book. 


Chapter II 

A3OUT the goal, I repeat, there has for long been 
agreement. We know what sort of society we should 
like to be members of and what sort of men and women 
we should like to be. But when it comes to deciding how 
to reach the goal, the babel of conflicting opinions breaks 
loose. Quot homines, tot sententiae. Where ultimate ends 
are concerned, the statement is false; in regard to means, 
it is nearly true. Every one has his own patent medicine,, 
guaranteed to cure all the ills of humanity; and so 
passionate, in many cases, is belief in the efficacy of the 
panacea that men are prepared, on its behalf, to kill and to 
be killed. 

That men should cling so tenaciously to the dogmas 
they have invented or accepted, and that they should hate 
so passionately the people who have invented or accepted 
other dogmas, are facts that can be accounted for only 
too easily. Certainty is profoundly comforting, and hatred 
pays a high dividend in emotional excitement. It is less 
easy, however, to understand why such exclusive doctrines 
should ever arise, why the intellect, even when unblinded 
by passion, should be ready and even eager to regard 
them as true. It is worth while, in this context, to 
devote a few lines to the nature of explanation. In 
what does the process of explaining consist? And, in 
any given explanation, what is the quality which we 
find intellectually satisfying? These questions have been 
treated with great acuteness and an enormous wealth 
of learning by the late Emile Meyerson, from whose 



writings I have, in the ensuing paragraphs, freely 
borrowed. 1 . 

The human mind has an invincible tendency to reduce 
the diverse to the identical. That which is given us, 
immediately, by our senses, is multitudinous and diverse. 
Our intellect, which hungers and thirsts after explanation, 
attempts to reduce this diversity to identity. Any pro- 
position stipulating the existence of an identity underlying 
diverse phenomena, or persisting through time and change, 
seems to us intrinsically plausible. We derive a deep 
satisfaction from any doctrine which reduces irrational 
multiplicity to rational and comprehensible unity. To 
this fundamental psychological fact is due the existence of 
science, of philosophy, of theology. If we were not 
always trying to reduce diversity to identity, we should 
find it almost impossible to think at all. The world would 
be a mere chaos, an unconnected series of mutually 
irrelevant phenomena. 

The effort to reduce diversity to identity can be, and 
generally is, carried too far. This is particularly true in 
regard to thinkers who are working in fields not subjected 
to the discipline of one of the well-organized natural 
sciences. Natural science recognizes the fact that there is 
a residue of irrational diversity which cannot be reduced 
to the identical and the rational. For example, it admits 
the existence of irreversible changes in time. When an 
irreversible change takes place, there is not an underlying 
identity between the state before and the state after the 
change. Science is not only the effort to reduce diversity 
to identity; it is also, among other things, the study of 
the irrational brute fact of becoming. There are two 
tendencies in science; the tendency towards identification 
and generalization and the tendency towards the exploration 

1 See Du Cheminement de la Pensie and DC V Explication dans let 
Sciences, by Emile Meyerson* 



of brute reality, accompanied by a recognition of the 
specificity of phenomena. 

Where thought is not subject to the discipline of one of 
the organized sciences, the first tendency that towards 
identification and generalization is apt to be allowed too 
much scope. The result is an excessive simplification. In 
its impatience to understand, its hunger and thirst after 
explanation, the intellect tends to impose more rationality 
upon the given facts than those facts will bear, tends to 
discover in the brute diversity of phenomena more identity 
than really exists in them or at any rate more identity 
than a man can make use of in the practical affairs of life. 
For a being that can take the god's-eye view of things, 
certain diversities display an underlying identity. By the 
animal, on the contrary, they must be accepted for what 
they seem to be, specifically dissimilar. Man is a double 
being and can take, now the god's-eye view of things, 
now the brute's-eye view. For example, he can affirm 
that chalk and cheese are both composed of electrons, both 
perhaps more or less illusory manifestations of the Absolute. 
Such reduction of the diverse to the identical may satisfy 
our hunger for explanation; but we have bodies as well 
as intellects, and these bodies have a hunger for Stilton 
and a distaste for chalk. In so far as we are hungry and 
thirsty animals, it is important for us to know that there 
is a difference between what is wholesome and what is 
poisonous. Their reduction to an identity may be all 
right in the study; but in the dining-room it is extremely 

Over-simplification in regard to such phenomena as 
chalk and cheese, as H 2 O and HgSO 4 , leads very rapidly 
to fatal results; it is rarely therefore that we make such 
over-simplifications. There are, however, other classes of 
phenomena in regard to which we can over-simplify with 
a certain measure of impunity. The penalty for such 



mistakes is not spectacular or immediate. In many cases, 
indeed, the makers of the mistake are not even aware that 
they are being punished; for the punishment takes the 
form not of a deprivation of a good which they already 
possess, but of the withholding of a good which they 
might have come to possess if they had not made the 
mistake. Consider, by way of example, that once very 
common over-simplification of the facts which consists in 
making God responsible for all imperfectly understood 
phenomena. Secondary causes are ignored and everything 
is referred back to the creator. No more wholesale re- 
duction of diversity to identity is possible; and yet its 
effect is not immediately perceptible. Those who make 
the mistake of thinking in terms of a first cause are fated 
never to become men of science. But as they do not 
know what science is, they are not aware that they are 
losing anything. 

To refer phenomena back to a first cause has ceased to 
be fashionable, at any rate in the West. The identities to 
which we try to reduce the complicated diversities around 
us are of a different order. For example, when we discuss 
society or individual human beings, we no longer make 
our over-simplifications in terms of the will of God, but 
of such entities as economics, or sex, or the inferiority 
complex. Excessive simplifications! But here again the 
penalty for making them is not immediate or obvious. 
Our punishment consists in our inability to realize our 
ideals, to escape from the social and psychological slough 
in which we wallow. We shall never deal effectively with 
our human problems until we follow the example of natural 
scientists and temper our longing for rational simplification 
by the recognition in things and events of a certain residue 
or irrationality, diversity and specificity. We shall never 
succeed in changing our age of iron into an age of gold 
until we give up our ambition to find a single cause for 


all our ills, and admit the existence of many causes acting 
simultaneously, of intricate correlations and reduplicated 
actions and reactions. There is, as we have seen, a great 
variety of fanatically entertained opinions regarding the 
best way of reaching the desired goal. We shall be well 
advised to consider them all. To exalt any single one of 
them into an orthodoxy is to commit the fault of over- 
simplification. In these pages I shall consider some of the 
means which must be employed, and employed simul- 
taneously, if we are to realize the end which the prophets 
and the philosophers have proposed for humanity a free 
and just society, fit for non-attached men and women to 
be members of, and such, at the same time, as only non- 
attached men and women could organize. 

Chapter HI 


AMONG people who hold what are called 'advanced 
J[\ opinions' there is a widespread belief that the ends 
we all desire can best be achieved by manipulating the 
structure of society. They advocate, not a 'change of 
heart' for individuals, but the carrying through of certain 
large-scale political and, above all, economic reforms. 

Now, economic and political reform is a branch of what 
may be called preventive ethics. The aim of preventive 
ethics is to create social circumstances of such a nature that 
individuals will not be given opportunities for behaving in 
an undesirable, that is to say an excessively 'attached/ way. 

Among the petitions most frequently repeated by 
Christians is the prayer that they may not be led into 
temptation. The political and economic reformer aims at 
answering that prayer. He believes that man's environment 
can be so well organized, that the majority of temptations 
will never arise. In the perfect society, the individual will 
practise non-attachment, not because he will be deliberately 
and consciously non-attached, but because he will never be 
given the chance of attaching himself. There is, it is 
obvious, much truth in the reformer's contention. In 
England, for example, far fewer murders are committed 
now than were committed in the past. This reduction in 
the murder rate is due to a number of large-scale reforms 
to legislation restricting the sale and forbidding the carry- 
ing of arms ; to the development of an efficient legal system 
which provides prompt redress to the victims of outrage. 



Nor must we forget the change of manners (itself due to 
a great variety of causes) which has led to the disparagement 
of duelling and a new conception of personal honour. 
Similar examples might be cited indefinitely. Social reforms 
have unquestionably had the effects of reducing the number 
of temptations into which individuals may be led. (In a 
later paragraph, I shall consider the question of the new 
temptations which reforms may create.) When the absence 
of temptation has been prolonged for some time, an ethical 
habit is created; individuals come to think that the evil 
into which they are not led is something monstrous and 
hardly even thinkable. Generally, they take to themselves 
the credit that is really due to circumstances. Consider, 
for example, the question of cruelty. In England the 
legislation against cruelty to animals and, later, children 
and adults, was carried through, against indifference and 
even active opposition, by a small minority of earnest 
reformers. Removal of the occasions of indulging in and 
gloating over cruelty resulted after a certain time in the 
formation of a habit of humanitarianism. Thanks to this 
habit, Englishmen now feel profoundly shocked by the 
idea of cruelty and imagine that they themselves would 
be quite incapable of performing or watching cruel acts. 
This last belief is probably unfounded. There are many 
people who believe themselves to be fundamentally humane 
and actually behave as humanitarians, but who, if changed 
circumstance offered occasions for being cruel (especially 
if the cruelty were represented as a means to some noble 
end), would succumb to the temptation with enthusiasm. 
Hence the enormous importance of preserving intact any 
long-established habit of decency and restraint. Hence the 
vital necessity of avoiding war, whether international or 
civil. For war, if it is fought on a large scale, destroys 
more than the lives of individual men and women; it shakes 
the whole fabric of custom, of law, of mutual confidence, 
B 17 


of unthinking and habitual decency and humaneness, upon 
which all forms of tolerable social life are based. The 
English are, on the whole, a good-humoured and kindly 
people. This is due, not to any extra dose of original 
virtue in them, but to the fact that the last successful 
invasion of their island took place in 1066 and their last 
civil war (a most mild and gentlemanlike affair) in 1688. 
It should be noted, moreover, that the kindliness of the 
English manifests itself only at home and in those parts 
of their empire where there has been for some time no 
war or threat of war. The Indians do not find their rulers 
particularly kindly. And, in effect, the ethical standards 
of Englishmen undergo a profound change as they pass 
from the essentially peaceful atmosphere of their own 
country into that of their conquered and militarily occupied 
Indian Empire. Things which would be absolutely un- 
thinkable at home are not only thinkable, but do-able and 
actually done in India. The Amritsar massacre, for example. 
Long immunity from war and civil violence can do more 
to promote the common decencies of life than any amount 
of ethical exhortation. War and violence are die prime 
causes of war and violence. A country where, as in Spain, 
there is a tradition of civil strife, is far more liable to civil 
strife than one in which there exists a long habit of peaceful 

We see, then, that large-scale manipulation of the social 
order can do much to preserve individuals from temptations 
which, before the reforms were made, were ever present 
and almost irresistible. So far so good. But we must not 
forget that reforms may deliver men from one set of evils, 
only to lead them into evils of another kind. It often 
happens that reforms merely have the effect of transferring 
the undesirable tendencies of individuals from one channel 
to another channel. An old outlet for some particular 
wickedness is closed; but a new outlet is opened. The 



wickedness is not abolished; it is merely provided with a 
different set of opportunities for self-expression. It would 
be possible to write a most illuminating History of Sin, 
showing the extent to which the various tendencies to bad 
behaviour have been given opportunities in the different 
civilizations of the world, enumerating the defects of every 
culture's specific virtues, tracing the successive meta- 
morphoses of evil under changing technological and 
political conditions. Consider, by way of example, the 
recent history of that main source of evil, the lust for 
power, the craving for personal success and dominance. 
In this context we may describe the passage from mediaeval 
to modern conditions as a passage from violence to cunning, 
from the conception of power in terms of military prowess 
and the divine right of aristocracy to its conception in terms 
of finance. In the earlier period the sword and the patent 
of nobility are at once the symbols and the instruments of 
domination. In the later period their place is taken by 
money. Recently the lust for power has come to express 
itself once again in ways that are almost mediaeval. In the 
Fascist states there has been a return towards rule by the 
sword and by divine right. True, the right is that of self- 
appointed leaders rather than that of hereditary aristocrats ; 
but it is still essentially divine. Mussolini is infallible; 
Hitler, appointed by God. In collectivized Russia a system 
of state capitalism has been established. Private ownership 
of the means of production has disappeared and it has 
become impossible for individuals to use money as a means 
for dominating their fellows. But this does not mean that 
the lust for power has been suppressed; rather it has been 
deflected from one channel to another channel. Under the 
new regime the symbol and the instrument of power is 
political position. Men seek, not wealth, but a strategic 
post in the hierarchy. How ruthlessly they would fight 
for these strategic posts was shown during the treason 



trials of 1936 and 1937. In Russia, and to a certain extent 
in the other* dictatorial countries, the situation is very 
similar to that which existed in the religious orders, where 
position was more important than money. Among the 
Communists ambition has been more or less effectively 
divorced from avarice, and the lust of power manifests 
itself in a form which is, so to say, chemically pure. 

This is the cue for smiling indulgently and saying : ' You 
can't change human nature/ To which the anthropologist 
replies by pointing out that human nature has in fact been 
made to assume the most bewilderingly diverse, the most 
amazingly improbable forms. It is possible to arrange a 
society in such a way that even so fundamental a tendency 
as the lust for power cannot easily find expression. Among 
the Zuni Indians, for example, individuals are not led into 
the kind of temptation which invites the men of our 
civilization to work for fame, wealth, social position or 
power. By us, success is always worshipped. But among 
the Zunis it is such bad form to pursue personal distinction 
that very few people even think of trying to raise them- 
selves above their fellows, while those who try are regarded 
as dangerous sorcerers and punished accordingly. There 
are no Hitlers, no Kreugers, no Napoleons and no Calvins. 
The lust for power is simply not given an opportunity 
for expressing itself. In the tranquil and well-balanced 
communities of the Zunis and other Pueblo Indians all 
those outlets for personal ambition the political, the 
financial, the military, the religious outlets with which 
our own history has made us so painfully familiar 
are closed. 

The pattern of Pueblo culture is one which a modern 
industrialized society could not possibly copy. Nor, even 
if it were possible, would it be desirable that we should 
choose these Indian societies as our model. For the 
Pueblo Indians 9 triumph over the lust for power has been 


secured at an excessive cost. Individuals do not scramble 
for wealth and position, as with us; but they purchase 
these advantages at a great price. They are weighed 
down under a great burden of religious tradition ; they 
are attached to all that is old and terrified of all that is 
novel and unfamiliar; they spend an enormous amount 
of time and energy in the performance of magic rites and 
the repetition, by rote, of interminable formulas. Using 
the language of theology, we can say that the deadly sins 
to which we are peculiarly attached are pride, avarice and 
malice. Their special attachment is to sloth above all 
to the mental sloth, or stupidity, against which the Buddhist 
moralists so insistently warn their disciples. The problem 
which confronts us is this: can we combine the merits 
of our culture with those of the Pueblo culture? Can we 
create a new pattern of living in which the defects of the 
two contrasted patterns, Pueblo-Indian and Western- 
Industrial, shall be absent? Is it possible for us to 
acquire their admirable habits of non-attachment to wealth 
and personal success and at the same time to preserve 
our intellectual alertness, our interest in science, our 
capacity for making rapid technological progress and 
social change? 

These are questions which it is impossible to answer 
with any degree of confidence. Only experience and 
deliberate experiment can tell us if our problem can be 
completely solved. All we certainly know is that, up to 
the present, scientific curiosity and a capacity for making 
rapid social changes have always been associated with 
frequent manifestations of the lust for power and the 
worship of success. 1 As a matter of historical fact, 
scientific progressiveness has never been divorced from 
aggressiveness. Does this mean that they can never be 

1 See in the last chapter the discussion of the relations existing 
between enforced sexual continence and social energy. 



divorced? Not necessarily. Every culture is full of 
arbitrary and fortuitous associations of behaviour-patterns, 
thought-patterns, feeling-patterns. These associations may 
last for long periods and are regarded, while they endure, 
as necessary, natural, right, inherent in the scheme of 
things. But a time comes when, under the pressure of 
changing circumstances, these long-standing associations 
fall apart and give place to others, which in due course 
come to seem no less natural, necessary and right than 
the old. Let us consider a few examples. In the richer 
classes of mediaeval and early modern European society 
there was a very close association between thoughts and 
habits concerned with sex and thoughts and habits con- 
cerned with property and social position. The mediaeval 
nobleman married a fief, the early-modern bourgeois 
married a dowry. Kings married whole countries and, 
by judiciously choosing their bedfellows, could build up 
an empire. And not only did the wife represent property; 
she also was property. The ferocious jealousies which it 
was traditionally right and proper to feel, were due at 
least as much to an outraged property sense as to a 
thwarted sexual passion. Hurt pride and offended avarice 
combined with wounded love to produce the kind of 
jealousy that could be satisfied only with the blood of 
the unfaithiul spouse. Meanwhile the faithful spouse was 
ornamented and bejewelled, occasionally no doubt out of 
genuine affection, but more often and chiefly to gratify the 
husband's desire for self-glorification. The sumptuously 
attired wife was a kind of walking advertisement for her 
owner's wealth and social position. The tendency towards 
what Veblen calls 'conspicuous consumption 1 came to be 
associated in these cultures with the pattern of sexual 
behaviour. I have used the past tense in the preceding 
passage. But in fact this association of conspicuous con- 
sumption with matrimony and also with fornication 


is still characteristic of our societies. In the other 
cases, however, there has been a considerable measure of 
dissociation. Spouses do not regard one another as 
private property to quite the same extent as in the past; 
consequently it no longer seems natural and right to 
murder an unfaithful partner. The idea of a wholly 
gratuitous sexual union, unconnected with dowries and 
settlements, is now frequently entertained even among 
the rich. Conversely there is a quite general belief that 
even married people may be sexually attached to one 
another. This was not so in the time of the troubadours; 
for, in the words of a recent historian of chivalry, chivalrous 
love was ' a gigantic system of bigamy.* Love and marriage 
were completely dissociated. 

There are many other associations of thought-patterns, 
feeling-patterns and action-patterns which have seemed in 
their time inevitable and natural, but which at other 
times or in other places have not existed at all. Thus, 
art has sometimes been associated with religion (as in 
Europe during the Middle Ages or among the ancient 
Mayas); sometimes, on the other hand, it has not been 
associated with religion (as among certain tribes of 
American Indians and among Europeans during the last 
three centuries). Similarly commerce, agriculture, sex, 
eating have sometimes been associated with religion, 
sometimes not. There are some societies where almost 
all activities are associated with negative emotions, where 
it is socially correct and morally praiseworthy to feel 
chronically suspicious, envious and malevolent. There 
are others in which it is no less right to feel positive 
emotions. And so on, almost indefinitely. 

Now, it may be that progressiveness and aggressiveness 
are associated in the same sort of arbitrary and fortuitous 
way as are the various pairs of thought-habits and action- 
habits mentioned above. It may be, on the other hand, 


that this association has its roots in the depth of human 
psychology and that it will prove very difficult or even 
impossible to separate these two conjoined tendencies. 
This is a matter about which one cannot dogmatize. All 
that one can say with certainty is that the association need 
not be quite so complete as it is at present. 

Let us sum up and draw our conclusions. First, then, 
we see that "unchanging human nature 9 is not unchanging, 
but can be, and very frequently has been, profoundly 
changed. Second, we see that many, perhaps most, of 
the observed associations of behaviour-patterns in human 
societies can be dissociated and their elements reassociated 
in other ways. Third, we see that large-scale manipulations 
of the social structure can bring about certain 'changes 
in human nature,' but that these changes are rarely 
fundamental. They do not abolish evil; they merely 
deflect it into other channels. But if the ends we all desire 
are to be achieved, there must be more than a mere 
deflection of evil; there must be suppression at the 
source, in the individual will. Hence it follows that 
large-scale political and economic reform is not enough. 
The attack upon our ideal objective must be made, not 
only on this front, but also and at the same time on all 
the others. Before considering what will have to be done 
on these other fronts, I must describe in some detail the 
strategy and tactics of attack upon the front of large-scale 

Chapter IV 

g nPHE more violence, the less revolution.' This dictum 
A of Barthelemy de Ligt's is one on which it is profit- 
able to meditate. 1 

To be regarded as successful, a revolution must be the 
achievement of something new. But violence and the 
effects of violence counter-violence, suspicion and resent- 
ment on the part of the victims and the creation, among 
the perpetrators, of a tendency to use more violence are 
things only too familiar, too hopelessly unrevolutionary. 
A violent revolution cannot achieve anything except the 
inevitable results of violence, which are as old as the 

Or let us put the matter in another way. No revolution 
can be regarded as successful if it does not lead to progress. 
Now, the only real progress, to quote Dr. Marett's words 
once more, is progress in charity. Is it possible to achieve 
progress in charity by means that are essentially un- 
charitable? If we dispassionately consider our personal 
experience and the records of history, we must conclude 
that it is not possible. But so strong is our desire to 
believe that there is a short cut to Utopia, so deeply 
prejudiced are we in favour of people of similar opinions 
to our own, that we are rarely able to command the 
necessary dispassion. We insist that ends which we 
believe to be good can justify means which we know quite 
certainly to be abominable; we go on believing, against 

1 See Pour Vcuncre sans Violence (English Translation published 
by Routledge) and La Paix Crlatnce^ by B. de LigL 


all the evidence, that these bad means can achieve the 
good ends wet desire. The extent to which even highly 
intelligent people can deceive themselves in this matter is 
well illustrated by the following words from Professor 
Laski's little book on Communism. 'It is patent,* he 
writes, 'that without the iron dictatorship of the Jacobins, 
the republic would have been destroyed/ To anyone who 
candidly considers the facts it seems even more patent that 
it was precisely because of the iron dictatorship of the 
Jacobins that the republic was destroyed. Iron dictator- 
ship led to foreign war and reaction at home. War and 
reaction between them resulted in the creation of a military 
dictatorship. Military dictatorship -resulted in yet more 
wars. These wars served to intensify nationalistic senti- 
ment throughout the whole of Europe. Nationalism 
became crystallized in a number of new idolatrous religions 
dividing the world. (The Nazi creed, for example, is 
already implicit and even, to a great extent, fully explicit 
in the writings of Fichte.) To nationalism we owe military 
conscription at home and imperialism abroad. 'Without 
the iron dictatorship of the Jacobins,' says Professor 
Laski, 'the republic would have been destroyed.' A fine 
sentiment! Unfortunately there are also the facts. The 
first significant fact is that the republic was destroyed and 
that the iron dictatorship of the Jacobins was the prime 
cause of its destruction. Nor was this the only piece of 
mischief for which the Jacobin dictatorship was responsible. 
It led to the futile waste and slaughter of the Napoleonic 
wars; to the imposition in perpetuity of military slavery, 
or conscription, upon practically all the countries of 
Europe; and to the rise of those nationalistic idolatries 
which threaten the existence of our civilization. A fine 
record! And yet would-be revolutionaries persist in 
believing that, by methods essentially similar to those 
employed by the Jacobins, they will succeed in producing 



such totally dissimilar results as social justice and peace 
between nations. 

Violence cannot lead to real progress unless, by way 
of compensation and reparation, it is followed by non- 
violence, by acts of justice and good will. In such cases, 
however, it is the compensatory behaviour that achieves 
the progress, not the violence which that behaviour was 
intended to compensate. For example, in so far as the 
Roman conquest of Gaul and the British conquest of 
India resulted in progress (and it is hard to say whether 
they did, and quite impossible to guess whether an equal 
advance might not have been achieved without those 
conquests), that progress was entirely due to the com- 
pensatory behaviour of Roman and British administrators 
after the violence was over. Where compensatory good 
behaviour does not follow the original act of violence, as 
was the case in the countries conquered by the Turks, 
no real progress is achieved. (In cases where violence is 
pushed to its limits and the victims are totally exterminated, 
the slate is wiped clean and the perpetrators of violence 
are free to begin afresh on their own account. This was 
the way in which, rejecting Perm's humaner alternative, 
the English settlers in North America solved the Red 
Indian problem. Abominable in itself, this policy is 
practicable only in underpopulated countries.) 

The longer violence has been used, the more difficult 
do the users find it to perform compensatory acts of non- 
violence. A tradition of violence is formed; men come 
to accept a scale of values according to which acts of 
violence are reckoned heroic and virtuous. When this 
happens, as it happened, for example, with the Vikings 
and the Tartars, as the dictators seem at present to be 
trying to make it happen with the Germans, Italians and 
Russians, there is small prospect that the effects of violence 
will be made good by subsequent acts of justice and kindness. 



From what has gone before it follows that no reform is 
likely to achieve the results intended unless it is, not only 
well {mentioned, but also opportune. To carry through a 
social reform which, in the given historical circumstances, 
will create so much opposition as to necessitate the use of 
violence is criminally rash. For the chances are that any 
reform which requires violence for its imposition will not 
only fail to produce the good results anticipated, but will 
actually make matters worse than they were before. 
Violence, as we have seen, can produce only the effects 
of violence; these effects can be undone only by com- 
pensatory non-violence after the event; where violence 
has been used for a long period, a habit of violence is 
formed and it becomes exceedingly difficult for the per- 
petrators of violence to reverse their policy. Moreover, 
the results of violence are far-reaching beyond the wildest 
dreams of the often well-intentioned people who resort 
to it. The 'iron dictatorship* of the Jacobins resulted, as 
we have seen, in military tyranny, twenty years of war, 
conscription in perpetuity for the whole of Europe, the 
rise of nationalistic idolatry. In our own time the long- 
drawn violence of Tsarist oppression and the acute, 
catastrophic violence of the World War produced the 
'iron dictatorship* of the Bolsheviks. The threat of 
world-wide revolutionary violence begot Fascism; Fascism 
produced rearmament; rearmament has entailed the pro- 
gressive de-liberalization of the democratic countries. What 
the further results of Moscow's 'iron dictatorship' will be, 
time alone will show. At die present moment (June 1937) 
the outlook is, to say the least of it, exceedingly gloomy. 

If, then, we wish to make large-scale reforms which 
will not stultify themselves in the process of application, 
we must choose our measures in such a way that no violence 
or, at the worst, very little violence will be needed to 
enforce them. (It is worth noting in this context that 



reforms carried out under the stimulus of the fear of 
violence from foreign neighbours and with the aim of 
using violence more efficiently in future international wars 
are just as likely to be self-stultifying in the long run as 
reforms which cannot be enforced except by a domestic 
terror. The dictators have made many large-scale changes 
in the structure of the societies they govern without 
having had to resort to terrorism. The population gave 
consent to these changes because it had been persuaded 
by means of intensive propaganda that they were necessary 
to make the country safe against 'foreign aggression/ 
Some of these changes have been in the nature of desirable 
reforms; but in so far as they were calculated to make the 
country more efficient as a war-machine, they tended to 
provoke other countries to increase their military efficiency 
and so to make the coming of war more probable. But 
the nature of modern war is such that it is unlikely that 
any desirable reform will survive the catastrophe. Thus 
it will be seen that intrinsically desirable reforms, accepted 
without opposition, may yet be self-stultifying if the 
community is persuaded to accept them by means of 
propaganda that plays upon its fear of future violence on 
the part of others, or stresses the glory of future violence 
when successfully used by itself.) Returning to our main 
theme, which is the need for avoiding domestic violence 
during the application of reforms, we see that a reform 
may be intrinsically desirable, but so irrelevant to the 
existing historical circumstances as to be practically useless. 
This does not mean that we should make the enormous 
mistake committed by Hegel and gleefully repeated by 
every modern tyrant with crimes to justify and follies to 
rationalize the mistake that consists in affirming that the 
real is the rational, that the historical is the same as the 
ideal. The real is not the rational; and whatever is, is not 
right. At any given moment of history, the real, as we 


know it, contains certain elements of the rational, laboriously 
incorporated into its structure by patient human effort; 
amtong the things that are, some are lighter than others. 
Accordingly, plain common sense demands that, when 
we make reforms, we shall take care to preserve all such 
constituents of the existing order as are valuable. Nor is 
this all. Change as such is to most human beings more 
or less acutely distressing. This being so, we shall do 
well to preserve even those elements of the existing order 
which are neither particularly harmful nor particularly 
valuable, but merely neutral. Human conservatism is a 
fact in any given historical situation. Hence it is very 
important that social reformers should abstain from making 
unnecessary changes or changes of startling magnitude. 
Wherever possible, familiar institutions should be extended 
or developed so as to produce the results desired ; principles 
already accepted should be taken over and applied to a 
wider field. In this way the amount and intensity of 
opposition to change and, along with it, the risk of having 
to use measures of violence would be reduced to a 

Chapter V 

BEFORE the World War only Fabians talked about a 
planned society. During the War all the belligerent 
societies were planned, and (considering the rapidity with 
which the work was done) planned very effectively, for 
the purpose of carrying on the hostilities. Immediately 
after the War there was a reaction, natural enough in the 
circumstance, against planning. The depression produced 
a reaction against that reaction, and since 1929 the idea of 
planning has achieved an almost universal popularity. 
Meanwhile planning has been undertaken, systematically 
and on a large scale in the totalitarian states, piecemeal in 
the democratic countries. A flood of literature on social 
planning pours continuously from the presses. Every 
'advanced* thinker has his favourite scheme, and even 
quite ordinary people have caught the infection. Planning 
is now in fashion. Not without justification. Our world 
is in a bad way, and it looks as though it would be im- 
possible to rescue it from its present plight, much less 
improve it, except by deliberate planning. Admittedly 
this is only an opinion; but there is every reason to 
suppose that it is well founded. Meanwhile, however, it 
is quite certain, because observably a fact, that in the pro- 
cess of trying to save our world or part of it from its 
present confusion, we run the risk of planning it into the 
likeness of hell and ultimately into complete destruction. 
There are cures which are worse than disease. 

Some kind of deliberate planning is necessary. But which 
kind and how much? We cannot answer these questions, 



cannot pass judgment on any given scheme, except by 
constantly referring back to our ideal postulates. In con- 
sidering any plan we must ask whether it will help to 
transform die society to which it is applied into a just, 
peaceable, morally and intellectually progressive com- 
munity of non-attached and responsible men and women. 
If so, we can say that the plan is a good one. If not, we 
must pronounce it to be bad. 

In the contemporary world there are two classes of bad 
plans the plans invented and put into practice by men 
who do not accept our ideal postulates, and the plans 
invented and put into practice by the men who accept 
them, but imagine that die ends proposed by the prophets 
can be achieved by wicked or unsuitable means. Hell is 
paved with good intentions, and it is probable that plans 
made by well-meaning people of the second class may 
have results no less disastrous than plans made by the 
evil-intentioned people of the first class. Which only 
shows, yet once more, how right the Buddha was in 
classing unawareness and stupidity among the deadly 

Let us consider a few examples of bad plans belonging 
to these two classes. In the first class we must place all 
Fascist and all specifically militaristic plans. Fascism, in 
the words of Mussolini, believes that 'war alone brings 
up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the 
stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage 
to meet it.' Again, 'a doctrine which is founded upon 
the harmful postulate of peace is hostile to Fascism. 9 
The Fascist, then, is one who believes that the bombard- 
ment of open towns with fire, poison and explosives (in 
other words, modern war) is intrinsically good. He is 
one who rejects the teaching of the prophets and believes 
that the best society is a national society living in a state 
of chronic hostility towards other national societies and 



preoccupied with ideas of rapine and slaughter. He is one 
who despises the non-attached individual and holds up for 
admiration the person who, in obedience to the boss who 
happens at the moment to have grabbed political power, 
systematically cultivates all the passions (pride, anger, 
envy, hatred) which the philosophers and the founders of 
religions have unanimously condemned as the most male- 
ficent, the least worthy of human beings. All Fascist 
planning has one ultimate aim: to make the national 
society more efficient as a war-machine. Industry, com- 
merce and finance are controlled for this purpose. The 
manufacture of substitutes is encouraged in order that the 
country may be self-sufficient in time of war. Tariffs and 
quotas are imposed, export bounties distributed, exchanges 
depreciated for the sake of gaining a momentary advantage 
or inflicting loss upon some rival. Foreign policy is con- 
ducted on avowedly Machiavellian principles; solemn 
engagements are entered into with the knowledge that they 
will be broken the moment it seems advantageous to do 
so; international law is invoked when it happens to be 
convenient, repudiated when it imposes the least restraint 
on the nation's imperialistic designs. Meanwhile the 
dictator's subjects are systematically educated to be good 
citizens of the Fascist state. Children are subjected to 
authoritarian discipline that they may grow up to be 
simultaneously obedient to superiors and brutal to those 
below them. On leaving the kindergarten, they begin 
that military training which culminates in the years of 
conscription and continues until the individual is too 
decrepit to be an efficient soldier. In school they are 
taught extravagant lies about the achievements of their 
ancestors, while the truth about other peoples is either 
distorted or completely suppressed. The press is con- 
trolled, so that adults may learn only what it suits the 
dictator that they should learn. Anyone expressing un- 

c 33 


orthodox opinions is ruthlessly persecuted. Elaborate 
systems of police espionage are organized to investigate 
the private life and opinions of even the humblest individual. 
Delation is encouraged, tale-telling rewarded. Terrorism 
is legalized. Justice is administered in secret; the pro- 
cedure is unfair, the penalties barbarously cruel. Brutality 
and torture are regularly employed. 

C7 J ft/ 

Such is Fascist planning the planning of those who 
reject the ideal postulates of Christian civilization and of 
the older Asiatic civilizations which preceded it and from 
which it derived the planning of men whose intentions 
are avowedly bad. Let us now consider examples of 
planning by political leaders who accept the ideal postulates, 
whose intentions are good. The first thing to notice is 
that none of these men accepts the ideal postulates whole- 
heartedly. All believe that desirable ends can be achieved 
by undesirable means. Aiming to reach goals diametrically 
opposed to those of Fascism, they yet persist in taking 
the same roads as are taken by the Duces and Fuehrers. 
They are pacifists, but pacifists who act on the theory that 
peace can be achieved by means of war ; they are reformers 
and revolutionaries, but reformers who imagine that un- 
fair and arbitrary acts can produce social justice, revolution- 
aries who persuade themselves that the centralization of 
power and the enslavement of the masses can result in 
liberty for all. Revolutionary Russia has the largest army 
in the world; a secret police, that for ruthless efficiency 
rivals the German or the Italian; a rigid press censorship; 
a system of education that, since Stalin * reformed* it, is as 
authoritarian as Hitler's; an all-embracing system of 
military training that is applied to women and children as 
well as men; a dictator as slavishly adored as the man- 
gods of Rome and Berlin ; a bureaucracy, solidly entrenched 
as the new ruling class and employing the powers of the State 
to preserve its privileges and protect its vested interests; 



an oligarchical party which dominates the entire country 
and within which there is no freedom even for faithful 
members. (Most ruling castes are democracies so far as 
their own members are concerned. Not so the Russian 
Communist Party, in which the Central Executive Com- 
mittee, acting through the Political Department, can over- 
ride or altogether liquidate any district organization what- 
soever.) No opposition is permitted in Russia. But 
where opposition is made illegal, it automatically goes 
underground and becomes conspiracy. Hence the treason 
trials and purges of 1936 and 1937. Large-scale manipula- 
tions of the social structure are pushed through against 
the wishes of the people concerned and with the utmost 
ruthlessness. (Several million peasants were deliberately 
starved to death in 1933 by the Soviet planners.) Ruth- 
lessness begets resentment; resentment must be kept down 
by force. As usual the chief result of violence is the 
necessity to use more violence. Such then is Soviet 
planning well-intentioned, but making use of evil means 
that are producing results utterly unlike those which the 
original makers of the revolution intended to produce. 

In the bourgeois democratic countries the need for using 
intrinsically good means to achieve desirable ends is more 
clearly realized than in Russia. But even in these countries 
enormous mistakes have been made in the past and still 
greater, still more dangerous mistakes are in process of 
being committed to-day. Most of these mistakes are due 
to the fact that, though professing belief in our ideal 
postulates, the rulers and people of these countries are, to 
some extent and quite incompatibly, also militarists and 
nationalists. The English and the French, it is true, are 
sated militarists whose chief desire is to live a quiet life, 
holding fast to what they seized in their unregenerate days 
of imperial highway-robbery. Confronted by rivals who 
want to do now what they were doing from the beginning 



of the eighteenth to the end of the nineteenth century, 
they profess and doubtless genuinely feel a profound moral 
indignation. Meanwhile, they have begun to address 
themselves, reluctantly but with determination, to the task 
of beating the Fascist powers at their own game. Like 
the Fascist states, they are preparing for war. But modern 
war cannot be waged or even prepared except by a highly 
centralized executive wielding absolute power over a docile 
people. Most of the planning which is going on in the 
democratic countries is planning designed to transform 
these countries into the likeness of totalitarian com- 
munities organized for slaughter and rapine. Hitherto 
this transformation has proceeded fairly slowly. Belief in 
our ideal postulates has acted as a brake on fascization, 
which has had to advance gradually and behind a smoke- 
screen. But if war is declared, or even if the threat of war 
becomes more serious than at present, the process will 
become open and rapid. 'The defence of democracy 
against Fascism' entails inevitably the transformation of 
democracy into Fascism. 

Most of the essays in large-scale planning attempted by 
the democratic powers have been dictated by the desire 
to achieve military efficiency. Thus, the attempt to co- 
ordinate the British Empire into a self-sufficient economic 
unit was a piece of planning mainly dictated by military 
considerations. Still more specifically military in character 
have been the plans applied to the armament industries, 
not only in Great Britain, but also in France and the other 
democratic countries, for the purpose of increasing pro- 
duction. Like the Fascist plans for heightening military 
efficiency such essays in planning are bound to make 
matters worse, not better. By transforming the British 
Empire from a Free Trade area into a private property 
protected by tariff walls, the governments concerned have 
made it absolutely certain that foreign hostility to the 


Empire shall be greatly increased. While the English 
possessed undisputed command of the sea, they con- 
ciliated world opinion by leaving the doors of their 
colonies wide open to foreign trade. Now that command 
of the sea has been lost, those doors are closed. In other 
words, England invites the world's hostility at the very 
moment when it has ceased to be in a position to defy 
that hostility. Greater folly could scarcely be imagined. 
But those who think in terms of militarism inevitably 
commit such follies. 

Consider the second case. Rearmament at the present 
rate and on the present enormous scale must have one of 
two results. Either there will be general war within 'a 
very short time; for si vis bellum^para bellum. Or, if war 
is postponed for a few years, the present rate of rearmament 
will have to be slowed down and an economic depression 
at least as grave as that of 1929 will descend upon the 
world. Economic depression will create unrest; unrest 
will speed up the fascization of the democratic countries; 
the fascization of the democratic countries will increase 
the present probability of war to an absolute certainty. 
So much for planning undertaken for specifically military 

Many pieces of planning, however, have not been 
specifically military in character. They have been devised 
by governments primarily for the purpose of counter- 
acting the effects of economic depression. But, unfor- 
tunately, under the present dispensation, such plans must 
be conceived and carried out in the context of militarism 
and nationalism. This context imparts to every plan in 
the international field a quality that, however good the 
intentions of the planners, is essentially militaristic. (Here 
it is worth while to enunciate a general truth, which the 
older anthropologists, such as Frazer, completely failed to 
grasp the truth that a given habit, rite, tradition takes 



on its peculiar significance from its context. Two peoples 
may have what is, according to Frazerian ideas, the same 
custom; but this does not mean that the custom in question 
will signify the same thing to these two peoples. If the 
contexts in which this * identical* custom is placed happen 
to be different as in fact they generally are then it will 
carry widely different significances for the two peoples. 
Applying this generalization to our particular problem, 
we see that a non-militaristic plan carried out in a militaristic 
context is likely to have a significance and results quite 
different from die significance and results of the same plan 
in a non-militaristic context.) 

Owing to the fact that even the democratic peoples are 
to some extent militarists and devotees of the idolatry of 
exclusive nationalism, almost all the economic planning 
undertaken by their governments has seemed to foreign 
observers imperialistic in character and has in fact resulted 
in a worsening of the international situation. Governments 
have used tariffs, export bounties, quotas and exchange 
devaluation as devices for improving the lot of their 
subjects; in the context of the world as it is to-day, these 
plans have seemed to other nations acts of deliberate ill- 
will meriting reprisals in kind. Reprisals have led to 
counter-reprisals. International exchanges have become 
more and more difficult. Consequently yet further planning 
has had to be resorted to by each of the governments 
concerned for the protection of its own subjects yet 
further planning which arouses yet bitterer resentment 
abroad and so brings war yet a little nearer. 

We are confronted here by the great paradox of con- 
temporary planning. Comprehensive planning by indi- 
vidual nations results in international chaos, and the 
degree of international chaos is in exact proportion to 
the number, completeness and efficiency of the separate 
national plans. 


During the nineteenth and the first years of the twentieth 
century economic exchanges between the nations were 
carried on with remarkable smoothness. National econo- 
mies were everywhere unplanned. The individuals who 
carried on international trade were forced in their own 
interest to conform to the rules of the game, as developed 
in the City of London. If they failed to conform, they 
were ruined and that was an end of it. Here we have 
the converse of the paradox formulated above. National 
planlessness in economic matters results in international 
economic co-ordination. 

We are on the horns of a dilemma. In every country 
large numbers of people are suffering privations owing to 
defects in the economic machine. These people must be 
helped, and if they are to be helped effectively and per- 
manently, the economic machine must be re-planned. But 
economic planning undertaken by a national government 
for the benefit of its own people inevitably disturbs that 
international economic harmony which is the result of 
national planlessness. In the process of planning for the 
benefit of their respective peoples, national governments 
impede the flow of international trade, enter into new 
forms of international rivalry and create fresh sources of 
international discord. During the last few years most of 
the governments of the world have had to choose between 
two almost equal evils. Either they could abandon the 
victims of economic maladjustment to their fate; but such 
a course was shocking to decent sentiment and, since the 
sufferers might vote against the government or even break 
out into violent revolt, politically dangerous. Or else they 
might help the sufferers by imposing a governmental 
plan upon the economic activity of their respective coun- 
tries; but in this case they reduced the system of inter- 
national exchanges to chaos and increased the probability 
of general war. 



Between the horns of this dilemma a way lies obviously 
and invitingly open. The various national governments 
can take counsel together and co-ordinate their activities, 
so that one national plan shall not interfere with the 
workings of another. But, unfortunately, under the present 
dispensation, this obvious and eminently sensible course 
cannot be taken. The Fascist states do not pretend to 
want peace and international co-operation, and even those 
democratic governments which make the loudest professions 
of pacifism are at the same time nationalistic, militaristic 
and imperialistic. Twentieth-century political thinking is 
incredibly primitive. The nation is personified as a living 
being with passions, desires, susceptibilities. The National 
Person is superhuman in size and energy but completely 
sub-human in morality. Ordinarily decent behaviour can- 
not be expected of the National Person, who is thought of 
as incapable of patience, forbearance, forgiveness and even 
of common sense and enlightened self-interest. Men, who 
in private life behave as reasonable and moral beings, 
become transformed as soon as they are acting as repre- 
sentatives of a National Person into the likeness of their 
stupid, hysterical and insanely touchy tribal divinity. This 
being so, there is little to be hoped for at the present time 
from general international conferences. No scheme of 
co-ordinated international planning can be carried through, 
unless all nations are prepared to sacrifice some of their 
sovereign rights. But it is in the highest degree improbable 
that all or even a majority of nations will consent to this 

In these circumstances the best and most obvious road 
between the horns of our dilemma must be abandoned in 
favour of roads more devious and intrinsically less desirable. 
National planning results, as we have seen, in disorder in 
the Held of international exchanges and political friction. 
This state of things can be remedied, at least partially, in 



one or both of two ways. In the first place, schemes of 
partial international co-ordination can be arranged between 
such governments as can agree upon them. This has 
already been done in the case of the Sterling Bloc, which 
is composed of countries whose rulers have decided that 
it is worth while to co-ordinate their separate national 
plans so that they shall not interfere with one another. 
There is a possibility that, in due course, other govern- 
ments might find it to their interest to join such a con- 
federation. On this point, however, it is unwise to be too 
optimistic. Time may demonstrate the advantages of 
international co-operation; but meanwhile time is also 
fortifying the vested interests which have been created 
under the various national plans. To participate in a 
scheme of international co-operation may be to the general 
advantage of a nation; but it is certainly not to the advan- 
tage of each one of the particular interests within the 
nation. If those particular interests are politically powerful, 
the general advantage of the nation as a whole will be 
sacrificed to their private advantages. 

The second way of reducing international economic 
disorder and political friction is more drastic. It consists 
in making nations as far as possible economically in- 
dependent of one another. In this way the number of 
contacts between nations would be minimized. But since, 
in the present state of nationalistic sentiment, international 
contacts result only too frequently in international friction 
and the risk of war, this reduction in the number of 
international contacts would probably mean a lessening of 
the probability of war. 

To the orthodox Free Trader such a suggestion must seem 
grotesque and almost criminal. 'The facts of geography 
and geology are unescapable. Nations are differently 
widowed. Each is naturally fitted to perform a particular 
task: therefore it is right that there should be division of 



labour among them. Countries should exchange the 
commodities they produce most easily against the com- 
modities which they cannot produce or can produce only 
with difficulty, but which can be easily produced else- 
where/ So runs the Free Trader's argument; and an 
eminently sensible argument it is or, perhaps it would 
be truer to say, it was. For those who now make use of 
it fail to take account of two things : namely, the recent 
exacerbation of nationalistic feeling and the progress of 
technology. For the sake of prestige and out of fear of 
what might happen during war-time, most governments 
now desire, whatever the cost and however great the 
natural handicaps, to produce within their own territory 
as many as possible of the commodities produced more 
easily elsewhere. Nor is this all : the progress of technology 
has made it possible for governments to fulfil such wishes, 
at any rate to a considerable extent, in practice. To the 
orthodox Free Trader the ideal of national self-sufficiency 
is absurd. But it can already be realized in part and will 
be more completely realizable with every advance in 
technology. A single national government may be able 
to prevent technological discoveries from being developed 
in its territories. But it cannot prevent them from being 
developed elsewhere; and when they have been developed, 
such advantages accrue that even the most conservative 
are forced to adopt the new technique. There can thus be 
no doubt that, sooner or later, the devices which already 
make it possible for poorly endowed countries to achieve 
a measure of self-sufficiency will come into general use. 
This being so, it is as well to make a virtue of necessity 
and exploit the discoveries of technology systematically 
and, so far as possible, for the benefit of all. At present 
these technological discoveries are being used by the 
dictators solely for war purposes. But there is no reason 
why the idea of national self-sufficiency should be associated 


with ideas of war. Science makes it inevitable that all 
countries shall soon attain to a considerable degree of self- 
sufficiency. This inevitable development should be so 
directed as to serve the cause of peace. And, in effect, it 
can easily be made to serve the cause of peace. The 
influence of nationalistic idolatry is now so strong that 
every contact between nations threatens to produce dis- 
cord. Accordingly, the less we have to do with one 
another, the more likely are we to keep the peace. Thanks 
to certain technological discoveries, it is unnecessary hence- 
forward that we should have much to do with one another. 
The more rapidly and the more systematically we make 
use of these discoveries, the better for all concerned. 

Let us consider by way of example the problem of 
food supply. Many governments, including the English, 
German, Italian and Japanese, excuse their preparations for 
war, their possession of colonies or their desire, if they 
do not possess colonies, for new conquests, on the ground 
that their territories are insufficient to supply the in- 
habitants with food. At the present time this * natural* 
food shortage is intensified by an artificial shortage, due 
to faulty monetary policies, which prevent certain countries 
from acquiring food-stuffs from abroad. These faulty 
monetary policies are the result of militarism. The govern- 
ments of the countries concerned choose to spend all the 
available national resources for the purchase of armaments 
on guns rather than butter. Food cannot be bought 
because the country is preparing to go to war; the country 
must go to war because food cannot be bought. As usual, 
it is a vicious circle. 

Faulty monetary policy may prevent certain nations 
from buying food from abroad. But even if this policy 
were altered, it would still remain true that food must be 
obtained from foreign sources. In relation to existing 
home supplies, such countries as Great Britain, Germany 



and Japan are over-populated. Hence, according to the 
rulers of these countries, the need for new aggression or, 
where aggression was practised in the past, for the main- 
tenance of long-established empires. To what extent is 
over-population a valid excuse for militarism and im- 
perialism? According to experts trained in the techniques 
of modern agro-biology, imperialism has now lost one of 
its principal justifications. Readers are referred to Dr. 
Willcox's book, Nations can live at Home, for a systematic 
exposition of the agro-biologist's case. According to 
Dr. Willcox, any country which chooses to apply the most 
advanced methods to the production of food plants, 
including grasses for live-stock, can support a population 
far in excess of the densest population existing anywhere 
on the earth's surface at the present time. The methods 
outlined by Dr. Willcox have already been used com- 
mercially. The novel system of 'dirtless farming* devised 
by Professor Gericke of California is still in die experi- 
mental stage; but if it turns out to be satisfactory, it 
promises a larger supply of food, produced with less 
labour and on a smaller area, than any other method can 
offer. It seems probable, indeed, that * dirtless farming* 
will produce an agricultural revolution compared to which 
the industrial revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries will seem the most trifling of social disturbances. 1 
Profitable technological inventions cannot be suppressed. 
If Professor Gericke's discovery turns out to be com- 
mercially useful, it will certainly be used. Solely in the 
interests of the farming community, governments will be 
forced to control the commercial exploitation of this 
revolutionary discovery. In the process of controlling it 

1 In die report of the Commission appointed by President Roose- 
velt to consider probable future trends, 'dirtless farming' was listed 
among the thirteen inventions likely to cause important social changes 
in the near future. The report was issued in July 1937. 



for the sake of the farmers, they can also control it in the 
interests of world peace. Even if 'dirtless farming* should 
not turn out to be a commercial proposition, nations, in 
Dr. Willcox's phrase, can still 'live at home,' and live 
(if the birth-rate does not sharply rise) in a hitherto un- 
precedented plenty. It is profoundly significant that no 
government has hitherto made any serious effort to apply 
modern agro-biological methods on a large scale, for the 
purpose of raising the standard of material well-being 
among its subjects and of rendering imperialism and 
foreign conquest superfluous. This fact alone would be 
a sufficient demonstration of the truth that the causes of 
war are not solely economic, but psychological. Pebple 
prepare for war, among other reasons, because war is in 
the great tradition; because war is exciting and gives them 
certain personal or vicarious satisfactions; because their 
education has left them militaristically minded; because 
they live in a society where success, however achieved, is 
worshipped and where competition seems more 'natural* 
(because, under the present dispensation, it is more habitual) 
than co-operation. Hence the general reluctance to embark 
on constructive policies, directed towards the removal at 
least of the economic causes of war. Hence, too, the 
extraordinary energy which rulers and even the ruled put 
into such destructive and war-provoking policies as re- 
armament, the centralization of executive power and the 
regimentation of the masses. 

I have spoken hitherto of the international consequences 
of national planning and of the measures which planners 
should take in order to minimize such consequences. In 
the ensuing paragraphs I shall deal with planning in its 
domestic aspects. Others have written, at great length 
and in minute detail, about the strictly technical problems 
of planning, and for a discussion of these problems I must 
refer the readers to the already enormous literature of the 



subject. 1 In this place I propose to discuss planning in 
relation to our ideal postulates and to set forth the con- 
ditions which must be fulfilled if the plans are to be 
successful in contributing towards the realization of those 

In the section on Social Reform and Violence I made it 
clear that most human beings are conservative, that even 
desirable changes beget opposition, and that no plan which 
has to be imposed by great and prolonged violence is ever 
likely to achieve the desirable results expected of it. From 
this it follows, first, that only strictly necessary reforms 
should be undertaken; second, that no change to which 
there is likely to be widespread and violent opposition 
should be imposed, however intrinsically desirable it may 
be, except gradually and by instalments; and, thirdly, that 
desirable changes should be made, wherever possible, by 
the application to wider fields of methods with which 
people are already familiar and of which they approve. 

Let us apply these general principles to particular 
examples of social planning, and first of all to the great 
arch-plan of all reformers: the plan for transforming a 
capitalist society, in which the profit motive predominates, 
into a socialist society, in which the first consideration is 
the common good. 

Our first principle is that only strictly necessary changes 
shall be carried out. If we wish to transform an advanced 
capitalist society, what are the changes that we cannot 
afford not to make? The answer is clear: the necessary, 
the indispensable changes are changes in the management 
of large-scale production. At present the management 
of large-scale production is in the hands of irresponsible 
individuals seeking profit. Moreover, each large unit is 

1 Planned Society, by Thirty-five Authors (New York, 1937), 
contains authoritative summaries of almost all aspects of planning, 
together with full bibliographies. 



independent of all the rest; there is a complete absence of 
co-ordination between them. It is the unco-ordinated 
activity of large-scale production that leads to those 
periodical crises and depressions which inflict such untold 
hardship upon the working masses of the people in indus- 
trialized countries. Small-scale production carried on by 
individuals who own the instruments with which they 
personally work is not subject to periodical slumps. 
Furthermore, the ownership of the means of small-scale, 
personal production has none of the disastrous political, 
economic and psychological consequences of large-scale 
production loss of independence, enslavement to an 
employer, insecurity of the tenure of employment. The 
advantages of socialism can be obtained by making changes 
in the management of large-scale units of production. 
Small units of production Heed not be touched. In this 
way, many of the advantages of individualism can be 
preserved and at the same time opposition to indispensable 
reforms will be minimized. 

Our second principle is that no reform, however in- 
trinsically desirable, should be undertaken if it is likely 
to result in violent opposition. For example, let us assume 
(though it may not in fact be true) that collectivized 
agriculture is more productive than individualized agri- 
culture and that the collectivized farm worker is, socially 
speaking, a better individual than the small farmer who 
owns his own land. This granted, it follows that the 
collectivization of agriculture is an intrinsically desirable 
policy. But though intrinsically desirable it is not a 
policy that should be carried out, except perhaps by slow 
degrees. Carried out at one stroke, it would inevitably 
arouse violent opposition, which would have to be crushed 
by yet greater violence. In Russia the rapid collectivization 
of agriculture could not be effected except by the liquida- 
tion, through imprisonment, execution and wholesale 



starvation, of a very large number of peasant proprietors. 
It is probable that a part, at least, of what is now (1937) 
called the Trotskyite opposition is composed of individuals 
who bear the government a grudge for this and other 
pieces of terrorism. To put down opposition, the govern- 
ment has had to resort to further violence, has had to 
make itself (to use Professor Laski's euphemistic metal- 
lurgical metaphor) even more of an 'iron dictatorship ' 
than it was before. This further violence and this, shall 
we call it, high-speed steel dictatorship can only produce 
the ordinary results of brutality and tyranny servitude, 
militarism, passive obedience, irresponsibility. Among the 
highly industrialized peoples of the West the collectivization 
of agriculture would have even more serious results than 
in Russia. Instead of being in an overwhelming majority, 
the peasants and farmers of Western Europe and America 
are less numerous than the town dwellers. Being less 
numerous, they are more precious. To liquidate, even to 
antagonize, any large number of this indispensable minority 
would be fatal to the people of the towns. A few millions 
of peasants could be starved in Russia and still, because 
there were so many millions of other peasants, die urban 
population could be fed. In countries like France or 
Germany, England or the United States, a policy of 
starving even quite a few peasants and farmers would 
inevitably result in the starving of huge numbers of urban 

The last of the three general principles of action enun- 
ciated above is to the effect that desirable changes should 
be made, wherever possible, by the application to wider 
fields of methods with which people are already familiar 
and of which they approve. A few concrete examples of 
the way in which existing institutions might be developed 
so as to bring about desirable changes in capitalistic 
societies are given below. The principle of the limitation 


of profit and of supervision by the state in the public in- 
terest has already been admitted and applied in such public 
utility corporations as the Port of London Authority, the 
Port of New York Authority, the London Passenger 
Transport Board, the Electricity Board, the B.B.C. 1 There 
should be no insuperable difficulty in extending the appli- 
cation of this already accepted principle to wider fields. 
Similarly there should be no great difficulty in extending 
the application of the popularly approved principles of 
consumer co-operation and producer co-operation. Again, 
consider the existing forms of taxation. In almost all 
countries the rich have accepted the principle of income 
tax and death duties. By any government which so 
desires, such taxation can be used for the purpose of 
reducing economic inequalities between individuals and 
classes, for imposing a maximum wage and for transferring 
control over large-scale production and finance from private 
hands to the state. One last example: the investment 
trust is a well-known and widely patronized financial 
convenience. Under the present dispensation the invest- 
ment trust is a private, profit-making concern. There 
would, however, be no great technical or political obstacle 
in the way of transforming it into a publicly controlled 
corporation, having as its function the rational direction of 
the flow of investment. 

I have spoken of intrinsically desirable reforms; but the 
phrase is crude and needs qualifying. In practice, no 
reform can be separated from its administrative, govern- 
mental, educational and psychological contexts. The tree 
is known by its fruits, and the fruits of any given 
reform depend for their quantity and quality at least as 

1 In some cases these corporations have had to take responsibility 
for over-capitalized concerns. In others the minimum interest rate 
has been fixed too high. These mistakes do not invalidate the 
principle involved. 

D 49 


much on the contexts of the reform as upon the reform 

For example, collective ownership of the means of 
production does not have as its necessary and unconditional 
result the liberation of those who have hitherto been 
bondmen. Collective ownership of the means of pro- 
duction is perfectly compatible, as we see in contemporary 
Russia, with authoritarian management of factories and 
farms, with militarized education and conscription, with 
the rule of a dictator, supported by an oligarchy of party 
men and making use of a privileged bureaucracy, a censored 
press and a huge force of secret police. Collective owner- 
ship of the means of production certainly delivers the 
workers from their servitude to many petty dictators 
landlords, money-lenders, factory owners and the like. 
But if the contexts of this intrinsically desirable reform 
are intrinsically undesirable, then the result will be, not 
responsible freedom for the workers, but another form of 
passive and irresponsible bondage. Delivered from servi- 
tude to many small dictators, they will find themselves 
under the control of the agents of -a single centralized 
dictatorship, more effective than the old, because it wields 
the material powers and is backed by the almost divine 
prestige of the national state. 

The contexts of reform are more desirable in the demo- 
cratic than in the totalitarian states; therefore the results 
of reform are likely to be better in the democratic states. 
Unhappily, contemporary circumstances are such that, 
unless the process is intelligently and actively resisted by 
men of good will, it is all but inevitable that these desirable 
contexts shall rapidly deteriorate. The reasons for this are 
simple. First of all, even the democratic peoples are 
imperialists and desire to beat the Fascist states at their 
own game of war. In order to prepare effectively for 
modern war, political power will have to be more highly 



centralized, self-governing institutions progressively 
abolished, opinion more strictly controlled and education 
militarized. In the second place, the democratic countries 
are still suffering to some extent from the economic de- 
pression which started in 1929. The various governments 
concerned have resorted to a measure of economic planning 
in order to mitigate the hardships suffered by their peoples. 
Economic planning has given these governments an oppor- 
tunity for strengthening their position. In England, for 
example, the central executive, the bureaucracy and the 
police are probably more powerful to-day than they have 
ever been. But die more powerful these forces becoipe 
the less are they able to tolerate democratic liberty even 
the small amount of it which exists among the so-called 
democratic peoples. Another point: economic planning 
inevitably leads to more economic planning, for the simple 
reason that the situation is so complex that planners cannot 
fail to make mistakes. Mistakes have to be remedied by 
the improvization and rapid enforcement of new plans. 
It is probable that these new plans will also contain mistakes, 
which must in turn be remedied by yet other plans. And 
so on. Now, where planning has come to be associated 
with an increase in the power of the executive (and un- 
fortunately this has been the case in all the democratic 
countries), every fresh access of planning activity, necessi- 
tated by mistakes in earlier plans, takes the country yet 
another step towards dictatorship. At the same time, as 
we have seen, comprehensive national planning leads to 
international chaos and consequent discord. In other 
words, national planning increases the risk of war; but 
war cannot be waged, or even prepared for, except by a 
highly centralized government. It will thus be seen that 
both directly and indirectly economic planning leads to 
a deterioration of the contexts in which desirable reform 
can be carried out. 



In the chapters that follow I shall concentrate almost 
exclusively on the desirable contexts of reform. My reasons 
for this are simple. 'Advanced thinkers' have talked and 
written at endless length about the desirable reforms, 
especially economic reforms. All of us have heard of the 
public ownership of the means of production; production 
for use and not for profit; public control of finance and 
investment, and all the rest. All of us, I repeat, have 
heard of these ideas and most of us are agreed that they 
ought to be transferred from the realm of theory to that 
of fact. But how few of us ever pay any attention to the 
administrative, educational and psychological contexts in 
which the necessary reforms are to be carried out! How 
few of us ever stop to consider the means whereby they 
shall be enforced! And yet our personal experience and 
the study of history make it abundantly clear that the 
means whereby we try to achieve something are at least 
as important as the end we wish to attain. Indeed, they 
are even more important. For the means employed in- 
evitably determine the nature of the result achieved; 
whereas, however good the end aimed at may be, its 
goodness is powerless to counteract the effects of the bad 
means we use to reach it. Similarly, a reform may be in 
the highest degree desirable ; but if the contexts in which 
that reform is enacted are undesirable, the results will 
inevitably be disappointing. These are simple and obvious 
truths. Nevertheless they are almost universally neglected. 
To illustrate these truths and to show how we might 
profitably act upon them will be my principal task in the 
ensuing pages. 


A Note on Planning for the Future 

Communities in which technological progress is being 
made are subject to continuous social change. Social changes 
caused by the advance of technology are often accompanied 
by much suffering and inconvenience. Can this be avoided ? 

A committee was recently appointed by the President 
of the United States to consider this question. Its report 
(referred to above) was made public in the summer of 
1937 and is a very valuable document. 

In the field of industry, the authors point out, techno- 
logical progress never leads to any social changes which 
cannot be foreseen a good many years in advance. In 
most cases the first discovery of a new process is separated 
from its large-scale commercial application by at least a 
quarter of a century. (Often this period is considerably 
greater.) Any community which chooses to make use of 
the intelligence and imagination of its best scientific minds 
can foresee the probable social consequences of a given 
technological advance long years before they actually 
develop. Up to the present social changes due to techno- 
logical progress have taken communities by surprise, not 
because they came suddenly, out of the blue, but because 
nobody in authority ever took the trouble to think out in 
advance what such changes were likely to be, or what 
were the best methods of preventing them from causing 
avoidable suffering. President Roosevelt's commission has 
pointed out what are the recent inventions most likely to 
cause important social changes in the immediate future, 
and has suggested a design for the administrative machinery 
required to minimize their ill effects. The problem, in this 
case, is purely a problem for technicians. 

There is one field in which very small technological 
advances may produce disproportionately great effects upon 



society; I refer to the field of armament manufacture. 
A* slight change, for example, in the design of internal- 
combustion engines so slight as to have no appreciable 
effect on the numbers of men employed in their con- 
struction may bring (and indeed has actually brought) 
millions of innocent men, women and children a long step 
nearer to death by fire, poison and explosion. In this case, 
of course, the problem is not one for technicians; it is a 
problem that can be solved only when sufficient numbers 
of men of good will are prepared to make use of the 
methods by which, and by which alone, it can be solved. 
For the nature of these methods I must refer the reader 
to the chapters on War and Individual Work for Reform. 

Rises and falls in the birth-rate are likely to produce 
social changes even more far-reaching than those produced 
by technological advances. It is about as certain as any 
future contingency can be that, half a century from now, 
the population of the industrialized countries of Western 
Europe will have declined, both absolutely and in relation 
to that of the countries of Eastern Europe. Thus, when 
Great Britain has only thirty-five million inhabitants, of 
whom less than a tenth will be under fifteen and more 
than a sixth over sixty, Russia will have about three hundred 
millions. Will a country so (relatively speaking) sparsely 
inhabited as the Britain of 1990 be able to keep up its 
position as a 'First-class, Imperial Power'? In the past 
Sweden, Portugal and Holland attempted to keep up the 
status of a Great Power on the basis of a population that 
was absolutely and relatively small. All of them failed in 
the attempt. If only for demographical reasons, Britain 
should take all possible steps to avoid a struggle for 
imperial power which, if not immediately fatal, will almost 
certainly prove fatal a couple of generations hence. In a 
militaristic world, relatively under-populated countries 
cannot hope (unless protected by more powerful neigh- 



hours) to retain exclusive possession of large empires* 
British imperialism was all very well when Britain was, 
relatively, highly populous and, thanks to being an island, 
invulnerable. For an exceedingly vulnerable and relatively 
underpopulated Britain, imperialism is the policy of a 
lunatic. (See Griffin's An Alternative to Rearmament, 
London, 1936.) 

Here again the problem raised by a declining birth-rate 
is not a problem for technicians. It is part of the general 
problem of international politics and war, and can be 
solved only when sufficient numbers of people genuinely 
desire to solve it and are ready to take the appropriate 
steps for doing so. 

Chapter VI 

FOR our present purposes, the significant facts about 
the governments of contemporary nations are these. 
There are a few rulers and many ruled. The rulers are 
generally actuated by love of power; occasionally by a 
sense of duty to society; more often and bewilderingly, 
by both at once. Their principal attachment is to pride, with 
which are often associated cruelty and avarice. The ruled, for 
the most part, quietly accept their subordinate position and 
even actual hardship and injustice. In certain circumstances 
it happens that they cease to accept and there is a revolt. 
But revolt is the exception; the general rule is obedience. 
The patience of common humanity is the most important, 
and almost the most surprising, fact in history. Most men 
and women are prepared to tolerate the intolerable. The 
reasons for this extraordinary state of things are many 
and various. There is ignorance, first of all. Those who 
know of no state of affairs other than the intolerable are 
unaware that their lot might be improved. Then there 
is fear. Men know that their life is intolerable, but 
are afraid of the consequences of revolt. The existence 
of a sense of kinship and social solidarity constitutes 
another reason why people tolerate the intolerable. 
Men and women feel attached to the society of which 
they are members feel attached even when the rulers of 
that society treat them badly. It is worthy of remark 
that, in a crisis, the workers (who are the ruled) have 
always fought for their respective nations (i.e. for their 
rulers) and against other workers. 

Mere habit and the force of inertia are also extremely 
powerful. To get out of a rut, even an uncomfortable rut, 
requires more effort than most people are prepared to make. 
In his Studies in History and Jurisprudence Bryce suggests 
that the main reason for obedience to law is simply 
indolence. 'It is for this reason/ he says, 'that a strenuous 
and unwearying will sometimes becomes so tremendous a 
power . . . almost a hypnotic force/ Because of indolence, 
the disinherited are hardly less conservative than the pos- 
sessors; they cling to their familiar miseries almost as 
tenaciously as the others cling to their privileges. The 
Buddhist and, later, the Christian moralists numbered sloth 
among the deadly sins. If we accept the principle that 
the tree is to be judged by its fruits, we must admit that 
they were right. Among the many poisonous fruits of 
sloth are dictatorship on the one hand and passive, 
irresponsible obedience on the other. Reformers should 
aim at delivering men from the temptations of sloth no 
less than from the temptations of ambition, avarice and 
the lust for power and position. Conversely, no reform 
which leaves the masses of the people wallowing in the 
slothful irresponsibility of passive obedience to authority 
can be counted as a genuine change for the better. 1 

Reinforcing the effect of indolence, kindliness and fear, 
rationalizing these emotions in intellectual terms, is philo- 
sophical belief. The ruled obey their rulers because, in 
addition to all the other reasons, they accept as true some 
metaphysical or theological system which teaches that the 
state ought to be obeyed and is intrinsically worthy of 
obedience. Rulers are seldom content with the brute facts 
of power and satisfied ambition; they aspire to rule dejure 
as well as de facto. The rights of violence and cunning 
are not enough for them. To strengthen their position in 

1 For the relation existing between energy and sexual continence, 
see Chapter XV. 



relation to the ruled and at the same time to satisfy their 
own uneasy cravings for ethical justification, they try to 
show that they rule by right divine. Most theories of 
the state are merely intellectual devices invented by 
philosophers for die purpose of proving that the people 
who actually wield power are precisely the people who 
ought to wield it. Some few theories are fabricated by 
revolutionary thinkers. These last are concerned to prove 
that the people at the head of their favourite political 
party are precisely the people who ought to wield power 
to wield it just as ruthlessly as the tyrants in office at 
the moment. To discuss such theories is mainly a waste 
of time; for they are simply beside the point, irrelevant 
to the significant facts. If we wish to think correctly 
about the state, we must do so as psychologists, not as 
special pleaders, arguing a case for tyrants or would-be 
tyrants. And if we want to make a reasonable assessment 
of the value of any given state, we must judge it in terms 
of the highest morality we know in other words, we 
must judge it in the light of the ideal postulates formulated 
by the prophets and the founders of religions. Hegel, 
it is true, regarded such judgments as extremely 'shallow/ 
But if profundity leads to Prussianism, as it did in Hegel's 
case, then give me shallowness. Let those who will, 
be tief; I prefer superficiality and the common decencies. 
We shall understand nothing of the problems of govern- 
ment unless we come down to psychological facts and 
ethical first principles. 

To a greater or less degree, then, all the civilized 
communities of the modern world are made up of a small 
class of rulers, corrupted by too much power, and of a 
large class of subjects, corrupted by too much passive and 
irresponsible obedience. Participation in a social order 
of this kind makes it extremely difficult for individuals 
to achieve that non-attachment in the midst of activity, 


which is the distinguishing mark of the ideally excellent 
human being; and where there is not at least a consider- 
able degree of non-attachment in activity, the ideal society 
of the prophets cannot be realized. A desirable social 
order is one that delivers us from avoidable evils. A bad 
social order is one that leads us into temptation which, 
if matters were more sensibly arranged, would never arise. 
Our present business is to discover what large-scale social 
changes are best calculated to deliver us from the evils of 
too much power and of too much passive and irresponsible 
obedience. It has been shown in the preceding chapter 
that the economic reforms, so dear to * advanced thinkers/ 
are not in themselves sufficient to produce desirable changes 
in the character of society and of die individuals composing 
it. Unless carried out by the right sort of means and in the 
right sort of governmental, administrative and educational 
contexts, such reforms are either fruitless or actually fruitful 
of evil. In order to create the proper contexts for economic 
reform we must change our machinery of government, our 
methods of public administration and industrial organiza- 
tion, our system of education and our metaphysical and 
ethical beliefs. With education and beliefs I shall deal in 
a later section of this book. Our concern here is with 
government and the administration of public and industrial 
affairs. In reality, of course, these various topics are 
inseparable parts of a single whole. Existing methods of 
government and existing systems of industrial organization 
are not likely to be changed except by people who have 
been educated to wish to change diem. Conversely, it is 
unlikely that governments composed as they are to-day 
will change the existing system of education in such a 
way that there will be a demand for a complete overhaul 
of governmental methods. It is the usual vicious circle 
from which, as always, there is only one way of escape 
through acts of free will on the part of morally enlightened, 



intelligent, well-informed and determined individuals, acting 
ia concert. Of the necessity for the voluntary association 
of such individuals and of the enormously important part 
that they can play in the changing of society I shall speak 
later. For the moment, let us consider the machinery 
of government and industrial administration. 

Chapter VII 

TITTE have found agreement in regard to the ideal 
W society and the ideal human being. Among the 
political reformers of the last century we even find a 
measure of agreement about the best means of organizing 
the state so as to achieve the ends which all desire. 
Philosophic Radicals, Fourierists, Proudhonian Mutualfets, 
Anarchists, Syndicalists, Tolstoyans all agree that authori- 
tarian rule and an excessive concentration of power are 
among the main obstacles in the way of social and individual 
progress. Even the Communists express at least a theoretical 
dislike of the centralized, authoritarian state. Marx described 
the state as a 'parasite on society' and looked forward to 
the time, after the revolution, when it would automatically 
* wither away.' Meanwhile, however, there was to be the 
dictatorship of the proletariat and an enormous increase in 
the powers of the central executive. The present Russian 
state is a highly centralized oligarchy. Its subjects, children 
and women as well as men, are regimented by means of 
military conscription, and an efficient secret police system 
takes care of people when they are not actually serving 
in the army. There is a censorship of the press, and the 
educational system, liberalized by Lenin, has now reverted 
to the authoritarian, militaristic type, familiar in Tsarist 
Russia, in the Italy of Mussolini, in Germany before the 
war and again under Hitler. We are asked by the sup- 
porters of Stalin's government to believe that the best and 
shortest road to liberty is through military servitude; 
that the most suitable preparation for responsible self- 



government is a tyranny employing police espionage, 
delation, legalized terrorism and press censorship; that 
the proper education for future freemen and peace-lovers 
is that which was and is still being used by Prussian 

Our earth is round, and it is therefore possible to travel 
from Paris to Rouen via Shanghai. Our history, on the 
contrary, would seem to be flat. Those who wish to 
reach a specific historical goal must advance directly 
towards it; no amount of wafting in the opposite direction 
will bring them to their destination. 

The goal of those who wish to change society for the 
better is freedom, justice and peaceful co-operation between 
non-attached, yet active and responsible individuals. Is 
there the smallest reason to suppose that such a goal can 
be reached through police espionage, military slavery, the 
centralization of power, the creation of an elaborate political 
hierarchy, the suppression of free discussion and the 
imposition of an authoritarian system of education? 
Obviously and emphatically, the answer is No. 

Marx believed that, after die revolution, the state would, 
in due course, automatically wither away. This is a point 
worth considering in some detail. In any given society, 
as Marx himself pointed out, the state exists, among other 
reasons, for the purpose of ensuring to the ruling class the 
continuance of its privileges. Thus, in a feudal community 
the state is the instrument by means of which the landed 
nobility keeps itself in power. Under capitalism, the state 
is the instrument by means of which the bourgeoisie 
retains its right to rule and to be rich. Similarly, under 
a hierarchical system of state Socialism, the state is the 
instrument by means of which the ruling bureaucracy 
defends the position to which it has climbed. The more 
firmly you consolidate your hierarchy, the more tenaciously 
will its members cling to their privileges. A highly 



centralized dictatorial state may be smashed by war or 
overturned by a revolution from below; there is not the 
smallest reason to suppose that it will wither. Dictatorship 
of the proletariat is in actual fact dictatorship by a small 
privileged minority; and dictatorship by a small privileged 
minority does not lead to liberty, justice, peace and the 
co-operation of non-attached, but active and responsible 
individuals. It leads either to more dictatorship, or to war, 
or to revolution, or (more probably) to all three in fairly 
rapid succession. 

No, the political road to a better society (and do not 
let us forget that, if we would reach the goal, we must 
advance along many other roads as well as the political) 
is the road of decentralization and responsible self- 
government. Dictatorial short cuts cannot conceivably 
take us to our destination. We must march directly 
towards the goal; if we turn our backs to it we shall 
merely increase the distance which separates us from the 
place to which we wish to go. 

The political road to a better society is, I repeat, the road 
of decentralization and responsible self-government. But 
in present circumstances it is extremely improbable that 
any civilized nation will take that road. It is extremely 
improbable for a simple reason which I have stated before 
and which I make no excuse for repeating. No society 
which is preparing for war can afford to be anything but 
highly centralized. Unity of command is essential, not 
only after the outbreak of hostilities, but also (in the 
circumstances of contemporary life) before. A country 
which proposes to make use of modern war as an instrument 
of policy must possess a highly centralized, all-powerful 
executive. (Hence the absurdity of talking about the 
defence of democracy by force of arms. A democracy 
which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, 
scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. 



No country can be really well prepared for modern war 
unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly 
trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.) 

I have said that a country which proposes to make use 
of modern war as an instrument of policy must possess a 
highly centralized, all-powerful executive. But, conversely, 
a country which possesses a highly centralized, all-powerful 
executive is more likely to wage war than a country where 
power is decentralized and the population genuinely governs 
itself. There are several reasons for this. Dictatorships are 
rarely secure. Whenever a tyrant feels that his popularity 
is waning, he is tempted to exploit nationalistic passion in 
order to consolidate his own position. Pogroms and 
treason trials are the ordinary devices by means of which 
a dictator revives the flagging enthusiasm of his people. 
When these fail, he may be driven to war. Nor must we 
forget that the more absolute the ruler, the more com- 
pletely does he tend to associate his own personal prestige 
with the prestige of the nation he rules. ' VEtat c'est 
moi* is an illusion to which kings, dictators and even 
such minor members of the ruling clique as bureaucrats 
and diplomats succumb with a fatal facility. For the 
victims of this illusion, a loss of national prestige is a 
blow to their private vanity, a national victory is a per- 
sonal triumph. Extreme centralization of power creates 
opportunities for individuals to believe that the state is 
themselves. To make or to threaten war becomes, for 
the tyrant, a method of self-assertion. The state is made 
the instrument of an individual's manias of persecution 
and grandeur. Thus we see that extreme centralization of 
power is not only necessary if war is to be waged success- 
fully ; it is also a contributory cause of war. 

In existing circumstances the ruling classes of every 
nation feel that they must prepare for war. This means 
chat there will be a general tendency to increase the power 

of the central executive. This increase of power of the 
central executive tends to make war more likely. Hence 
there will be demands for yet more intensive centraliza- 
tion. And so on, ad infinitum or, rather, until the 
crash comes. 

So long as civilized countries continue to prepare for 
war, it is enormously improbable that any of them will 
pursue a policy of decentralization and the extension of 
the principle of self-government. On the contrary, power 
will tend to become more narrowly concentrated than at 
present, not only in the totalitarian states, but also in the 
democratic countries, which will therefore tend to become 
less and less democratic. Indeed, the movement away from 
democratic forms of government and towards centralization 
of authority and military tyranny is already under way in 
the democratic countries. In England such symptoms as 
the Sedition Bill, the enrolment of an army of 'air raid 
wardens/ the secret but systematic drilling of government 
servants in the technique of 'air raid precautions,' are 
unmistakable. In France the executive has already taken 
to itself the power to conscribe everybody and everything 
in the event of war breaking out. In Belgium, Holland 
and the Scandinavian countries, as well as in the more 
powerful democracies, huge sums are being spent on re- 
armament. But rearmament is not a mere accumulation 
of ironmongery. There must be men trained to use the 
new weapons, a supply of docile labour for their manu- 
facture. An increase in the amount of a country's 
armaments implies a corresponding increase in the degree 
of its militarization. The fire-eaters of the Left who, 
for the last two years, have been calling for a 'firm stand 9 
(i.e. military action) on the part of the democratic countries 
against Fascist aggression have in effect been calling for 
an acceleration of the process by which the democratic 
countries are gradually, but systematically, being traas- 


formed into the likeness of those Fascist states they so 
much detest. 

Nothing succeeds like success even success that is 
merely apparent. The prevalence of centralization in the 
contemporary world creates a popular belief that centraliza- 
tion is not what in fact it is a great evil, imposed upon 
the world by the threat of war and avoidable only with 
difficulty and at the price of enormous effort and con- 
siderable sacrifices but intrinsically sound policy. Because 
in fact political power is being more and more closely 
concentrated, people have come to be persuaded that the 
way to desirable change lies through the concentration of 
power. Centralization is the order of the day ; the Zeitgeist 
commands it; therefore, they argue, centralization must 
be right. They forget that the Zeitgeist is just as likely to 
be a spirit of evil as a spirit of good and that the fact that 
something happens to exist is in no way a guarantee that 
it ought to exist. 

Every dictatorship has its own private jargon. The 
vocabularies are different; but the purpose which they 
serve is in all cases the same to legitimate the local 
despotism, to make a de facto government appear to be 
a government by divine right. Such jargons are instruments 
of tyranny as indispensable as police spies and a press 
censorship. They provide a set of terms in which the 
maddest policies can be rationalized and the most monstrous 
crimes abundantly justified. They serve as moulds for a 
whole people's thoughts and feelings and desires. By means 
of them the oppressed can be persuaded, not only to 
tolerate, but actually to worship their insane and criminal 

Significantly enough, one word is common to all the 
dictatorial vocabularies and is used for purposes of 
justification and rationalization by Fascists, Nazis and 
Communists alike. That word is * historical/ 



Thus, the dictatorship of the proletariat is an * historical 
necessity/ The violence of Communists is justified because, 
unlike Fascist violence, it is being used to forward an 
ineluctable * historical' process. 

In the same way, Fascism is said by its supporters to 
possess a quality of 'historical* inevitableness. The Italians 
have a great * historical mission/ which is to create an empire, 
in other words to gas and machine-gun people weaker than 

No less 'historically* necessary and right are the 
brutalities of men in brown shirts. As for the 'historical* 
importance of the Aryan race, this is so prodigious .that 
absolutely any wickedness, any folly is permitted to men 
with fair hair and blue eyes even to nachgedunkeltt 
Schrumpf-Germanen, like Hitler himself and the swarthy 
little Goebbels. 

The appeal to history is one which the dictators find 
particularly convenient; for the assumption which under- 
lies it is that, in Hegelian language, the real is the rational 
that what happens is ultimately the same as what ought 
to happen. 

For example, it very often happens that might triumphs 
over right; therefore might is 'historical* and deserves 
to conquer. 

Again, absolute power is intoxicatingly delightful. In 
consequence, those who have seized absolute power are 
prepared, as a rule, to make use of any means, however 
disgraceful, in order to retain it. Spying, delation, torture, 
arbitrary imprisonment and execution in every dictatorial 
country these are the ordinary instruments of domestic 
policy. They occur; they are therefore 'historical.* Being 
historical they are, in some tief, Hegelian way, reasonable 
and right. 

That such a doctrine should be believed and taught 
by tyrants is not surprising. The odd, the profoundly 



depressing fact is that it should be accepted as true by 
millions who are not tyrants, nor even the subjects of 
tyrants. For ever-increasing numbers of men and women, 
'historicalness' is coming to be accepted as one of the 
supreme values. This implicit identification of what ought 
to be with what is effectively vitiates all thinking about 
morals, about politics, about progress, about social reform, 
even about art. In those who make the identification it 
induces a kind of busy, Panglossian fatalism. Looking 
out upon the world, they observe that circumstances seem 
to be conspiring to drive men in a certain direction. This 
movement is 'historical,* therefore possesses value exists 
and therefore ought to exist. They accept what is. 
Indeed, they do much more than accept; they applaud, 
they give testimonials. If the real is the rational and the 
right, then it follows that a 'historical* action must have 
the same results as an action dictated by reason and the 
loftiest idealism. 

Let us return, for a concrete example, to this matter of 
the centralization of power. The particular circumstances 
of our time (nationalistic sentiment, economic imperialism, 
threats of war and so forth) conspire to create a tendency 
towards the concentration and centralization of authority. 
The consequence of this is a curtailment of individual 
liberties and a progressive regimentation of the masses, 
even in countries hitherto enjoying a democratic form of 
government. The rational idealist deplores this tendency 
towards tyranny and enslavement, and is convinced that 
its results can only be bad. Not so the man who is tief 
enough to regard historicalness as a value. His ultimate 
aim is probably the same as that of the rational idealist* 
But, believing as he does that the real is the rational, 
he persuades himself that the road which circumstances 
conspire to impose upon him must necessarily lead him 
to the desired goal. He believes that tyranny will some- 

how result in democracy, enslavement in the liberation of 
the individual, concentration of political and economic 
power in self-government all round* He is ready, in a 
word, to tolerate or even actively engage in any wicked- 
ness or any imbecility, because he is convinced that there 
is some * historical' providence which will cause bad, 
inappropriate means to result in good ends. 

The sooner we convince ourselves that 'historicalness* 
is not a value and that what we allow circumstances to 
make us do has no necessary connection with what we 
ought to do, the better it will be for ourselves and for 
the world we live in. At the present moment of .time, 
the ' historical ' is almost unmitigatedly evil. To accept the 
'historical' and to work for it is to co-operate with the 
powers of darkness against the light 

Chapter VIII 

HPHE Anarchists propose that the state should be 
JL abolished ; and in so far as it serves as the instrument 
by means of which the ruling class preserves its privileges, 
in so far as it is a device for enabling paranoiacs to satisfy 
their lust for power and carry out their crazy dreams of 
glory, the state is obviously worthy of abolition. But in 
complex societies like our own the state has certain other 
and more useful functions to perform. It is clear, for 
example, that in any such society there must be some 
organization responsible for co-ordinating the activities of 
the various constituent groups; clear, too, that there must 
be a body to which is delegated the power of acting in the 
name of the society as a whole. If the word 'state* is too 
unpleasantly associated with ideas of domestic oppression 
and foreign war, with irresponsible domination and no less 
irresponsible submission, then by all means let us call the 
necessary social machinery by some other name. For the 
present there is no general agreement as to what that name 
should be; I shall therefore go on using the bad old word, 
until some better one is invented. 

From what has been said in the preceding chapters it is 
clear that no economic reform, however intrinsically desir- 
able, can lead to desirable changes in individuals and the 
society they constitute, unless it is carried through in a 
desirable context and by desirable methods. So far as the 
state is concerned, the desirable context for reform is de- 
centralization and self-government all round. The desirable 
methods for enacting reform are the methods of non-violence. 



Passing from the general to the particular and the con- 
crete, the rational idealist finds himself confronted by the 
following questions. First, by what means can the prin- 
ciple of self-government be applied to the daily lives of 
men and women? Second, to what extent is the self- 
government of the component parts of a society compatible 
with its efficiency as a whole? And, thirdly, if a central 
organization is needed to co-ordinate the activities of the 
self-governing parts, what is to prevent this organization 
from becoming a ruling oligarchy of the kind with which 
we are only too painfully familiar? 

The technique for self-government all round, self- 
government for ordinary people in their ordinary avoca- 
tions, is a matter which we cannot profitably discuss unless 
we have a clear idea of what may be called the natural 
history and psychology of groups. Quantitatively, a group 
differs from a crowd in size; qualitatively, in the kind and 
intensity of the mental life of the constituent individuals. 
A crowd is a lot of people; a group is a few. A crowd has 
a mental life inferior in intellectual quality and emotionally 
less under voluntary control than the mental life of each of 
its members in isolation. The mental life of a group is not 
inferior, either intellectually or emotionally, to the mental 
life of the individuals composing it and may, in favourable 
circumstances, actually be superior. 

The significant psychological facts about the crowd are 
as follows. The tone of crowd emotion is essentially orgi- 
astic and dionysiac. In virtue of his membership of the 
crowd, the individual is released from the limitations of his 
personality, made free of the sub-personal, sub-human 
world of unrestrained feeling and uncriticized belief. To 
be a member of a crowd is an experience closely akin to 
alcoholic intoxication. Most human beings feel a craving 
to escape from the cramping limitations of their ego, to 
take periodical holidays from their all too familiar, all too 



squalid little self. As they do not know how to travel 
tfpwards from personality into a region of super-personality 
and as they are unwilling, even if they do know, to fulfil 
the ethical, psychological and physiological conditions of 
self-transcendence, they turn naturally to the descending 
road, the road that leads down from personality to the 
darkness of sub-human emotionalism and panic animality. 
Hence the persistent craving for narcotics and stimulants, 
hence the never-failing attraction of the crowd. The suc- 
cess of the dictators is due in large measure to their extremely 
skilful exploitation of the universal human need for escape 
from the limitations of personality. Perceiving that people 
wished to take holidays from themselves in sub-human 
emotionality, they have systematically provided their sub- 
jects with the occasions for doing so. The Communists 
denounce religion as the opium of the people; but all they 
have done is to replace this old drug by a new one of similar 
composition. For the crowd around the relic of the saint 
they have substituted the crowd at the political meeting; 
for religious procession, military reviews and May Day 
parades. It is the same with the Fascist dictators. In all 
the totalitarian states the masses are persuaded, and even 
compelled, to take periodical holidays from themselves in 
the sub-human world of crowd emotion. It is significant 
that while they encourage and actually command the descent 
into sub-humanity, the dictators do all they can to prevent 
men from taking the upward road from personal limitation, 
the road that leads towards non-attachment to the ' things of 
this world' and attachment to that which is super-personal. 
The higher manifestations of religion are far more suspect 
to the tyrants than the lower and with reason. For the 
man who escapes from egotism into super-personality has 
transcended his old idolatrous loyalty, not only to himself, 
but also to the local divinities nation, party, class, deified 
boss. Self-transcendence, escape from the prison of the 



ego into union with what is above personality, is generally 
accomplished in solitude. That is why the tyrants like to 
herd their subjects into those vast crowds, in which the 
individual is reduced to a state of intoxicated sub-humanity* 
It is time now to consider the group. The first question 
we must ask ourselves is this : when does a group become 
a crowd? This is not a problem in verbal definition; it is 
a matter of observation and experience. It is found empiric- 
ally that group activities and characteristic group feeling 
become increasingly difficult when more than about twenty 
or less than about five individuals are involved. Groups 
whkh come together for the purpose of carrying out a 
specific job of manual work can afford to be larger than 
groups which meet for the purpose of pooling information 
and elaborating a common poKcy, or which meet for reli- 
gious exercises, or for mutual comfort, or merely for the 
sake of convivially * getting together/ Twenty or even as 
many as thirty people can work together and still remain a 
group. But these numbers would be much too high in a 
group that had assembled for the other purposes I have 
mentioned. It is significant that Jesus had only twelve 
apostles ; that the Benedictines were divided into groups of 
ten under a dean (Latin Jecanus, from Greek Se'/ca, ten) ; that 
ten is the number of individuals constituting a Communist 
cell. Committees of more than a dozen members are found 
to be unmanageably large. Eight is the perfect number for 
a dinner party. The most successful Quaker meetings are 
generally meetings at which few people are present. Edu- 
cationists agree that the most satisfactory size for a class is 
between eight and fifteen. In armies, die smallest unit is 
about ten. The witches' * coven* was a group of thirteen. 
And so on. All evidence points clearly to the fact that there 
is an optimum size for groups and that this optimum is 
round about ten for groups meeting for social, religious or 
intellectual purposes, and from ten to thirty for groups 



engaged in manual work. This being so, it is clear that the 
\mits of self-government should be groups of the optimum 
size. If they are smaller than the optimum, they will fail 
to develop that emotional field which gives to group 
activity its characteristic quality, while the available quan- 
tity of pooled information and experience will be inadequate. 
If they are larger than the optimum, they will tend to split 
into sub-groups of the optimum size or, if the constituent 
individuals remain together in a crowd, there will be a danger 
of their relapsing into the crowd's sub-human stupidity and 

The technique of industrial self-government has been 
discussed with a wealth of concrete examples in a remark- 
able book by the French economist, Hyacinthe Dubreuil, 
entitled A Chacun sa Chance. Among the writers on indus- 
trial organization Dubreuil occupies a place apart; for he 
is almost the only one of them who has himself had experi- 
ence of factory conditions as a workman. Accordingly, 
what he writes on the subject of industrial organization 
carries an authority denied to the utterances of those who 
rely on second-hand information as a basis for their theories. 
Dubreuil points out that even the largest industries can be 
organized so as to consist of a series of self-governing, yet 
co-ordinated, groups of, at the outside, thirty members. 
Within the industry each one of such groups can act as a 
kind of sub-contractor, undertaking to perform so much 
of such and such a kind of work for such and such a sum. 
The equitable division of this sum among the constituent 
members is left to the group itself, as is also the preservation 
of discipline, the election of representatives and leaders. 
The examples which Dubreuil quotes from the annals of in- 
dustrial history and from his own experience as a workman 
tend to show that this form of organization is appreciated 
by the workers, to whom it gives a measure of inde- 
pendence even within the largest manufacturing concern, 


and that in most cases it results in increased efficiency of 
working. It possesses, as he points out, the further merit 
of being a form of organization that educates those who 
belong to it in the practice of co-operation and mutual 

Under the present dispensation, the great majority of 
factories are little despotisms, benevolent in some cases, 
malevolent in others. Even where benevolence prevails, 
passive obedience is demanded of the workers, who are 
ruled by overseers, not of their own election, but appointed 
from above. In theory, they may be the subjects of a 
democratic state; but in practice they spend the whole of 
their working lives as the subjects of a petty tyrant. 
Dubreuil's scheme, if it were generally acted upon, would 
introduce genuine democracy into the factory. And if some 
such scheme is not acted upon, it is of small moment to the 
individual whether the industry in which he is working is 
owned by the state, by a co-operative society, by a joint- 
stock company or by a private individual. Passive obed- 
ience to officers appointed from above is always passive 
obedience, whoever the general in ultimate control may be. 
Conversely, even if the ultimate control is in the wrong 
hands, the man who voluntarily accepts rules in the making 
of which he has had a part, who obeys leaders he himself 
has chosen, who has helped to decide how much and in what 
conditions he himself and his companions shall be paid, is 
to that extent the free and responsible subject of a genuinely 
democratic government, and enjoys those psychological 
advantages which only such a form of government can give. 

Of modern wage-slaves, Lenin writes that they ' remain 
to such an extent crushed by want and poverty that they 
"can't be bothered with democracy," have "no time for 
politics," and in the ordinary peacefiil course of events, the 
majority of the population is debarred from participating 
in public political life.' This statement is only partially 



true. Not all those who can't be bothered with democracy 
are. debarred from political life by want and poverty. 
Plenty of well-paid workmen and, for that matter, plenty 
of the wealthiest beneficiaries of the capitalistic system, find 
that they can't be bothered with politics. The reason is not 
economic, but psychological ; has its source, not in environ- 
ment, but in heredity. People belong to different psycho- 
physiological types and are endowed with different degrees 
of general intelligence. The will and ability to take an 
effective interest in large-size politics do not belong to all, 
or even a majority of, men and women. Preoccupation with 
general ideas, with things and people distant in space, with 
contingent events remote in future time, is something which 
it is given to only a few to feel. 'What's Hecuba to him or 
he to Hecuba?' The answer in most cases is: Nothing 
whatsoever. An improvement in the standard of living 
might perceptibly increase the number of those for whom 
Hecuba meant something. But even if all were rich, there 
would still be many congenitally incapable of being bothered 
with anything so far removed from die warm, tangible facts 
of everyday experience. As things are at present, millions 
of men and women come into the world disfranchised by 
nature. They have the privilege of voting on long-range, 
large-scale political issues; but they are congenitally in- 
capable of taking an intelligent interest in any but short- 
range, small-scale problems. Too often the framers of 
democratic constitutions have acted as though man were 
made for democracy, not democracy for man. The vote 
has been a kind of bed of Procustes upon which, however 
long their views, however short their ability, all human 
beings were expected to stretch themselves. Not unnatur- 
ally, the results of this kind of democracy have proved 
disappointing. Nevertheless, it remains true that demo- 
cratic freedom is good for those who enjoy it, and that 
practice in self-government is an almost indispensable ele- 


ment in the curriculum of man's moral and psychological 
education. Human beings belong to different types; it is 
therefore necessary to create different types of democratic 
and self-governing institutions, suitable for the various 
kinds of men and women. Thus, people with short-range, 
small-scale interests can find scope for their kind of political 
abilities in self-governing groups within an industry, within 
a consumer or producer co-operative, within the adminis- 
trative machinery of the parish, borough or county. By 
means of comparatively small changes in the existing 
systems of local and professional organization it would be 
possible to make almost every individual a member of some 
self-governing group. In this way the curse of merely 
passive obedience could be got rid of, the vice of political 
indolence cured and the advantages of responsible and 
active freedom brought to all. In this context it is worth 
remarking on a very significant change which has recently 
taken place in our social habits. Materially, this change 
may be summed up as the decline of the community; 
psychologically, as the decline of the community sense. 
The reasons for this double change are many and of various 
kinds. Here are a few of the more important. 

Birth-control has reduced the size of the average 
family and, for various reasons which will be apparent 
later, the old habits of patriarchal living have practically 
disappeared. It is very rare nowadays to find parents, 
married children and grandchildren living together in the 
same house or in close association. Large families and 
patriarchal groups were communities iiijijjjiilirliililjj^i and 
adults had to learn (often by very - - 

of co-operation and the need to 
others. These admittedly 
munity sense have now disap 

New methods of transport 
life in the village and small t 



ago most villages were to a great extent self-sufficing com- 
munities. Every trade was represented by its local techni- 
cian; the local produce was consumed or exchanged in the 
neighbourhood; the inhabitants worked on the spot. If 
they desired instruction or entertainment or religion, they 
had to mobilize the local talent and produce it themselves. 
To-day all this is changed. Thanks to improved transport, 
the village is now closely bound up with the rest of the 
economic world. Supplies and technical services are ob- 
tained from a distance. Large numbers of the inhabitants 
go out to work in factories and offices in far-off cities. 
Music and the drama are provided, not by local talent, but 
over the ether and in the picture theatre. Once all the 
members of the community were always on the spot; now, 
thanks to cars, motor cycles and buses the villagers are 
rarely in their village. Community fun, community wor- 
ship, community efforts to secure culture have tended to 
decline, for the simple reason that, in leisure hours, a large 
part of the community's membership is always somewhere 
else. Nor is this all. The older inhabitants of Middletown, 
as readers of the Lynds* classical study of American small- 
town life will remember, complained that the internal-com- 
bustion engine had led to a decline of neighbourliness. 
Neighbours have Fords and Chevrolets, consequently are 
no longer there to be neighbourly; or if by chance they 
should be at home, they content themselves with calling up 
on the telephone. Technological progress has reduced the 
number of physical contacts, impoverished the spiritual 
relations between the members of a community. 

Centralized professionalism has not only affected local 
entertainment; it has also affected the manifestations of 
local charity and mutual aid. State-provided hospitals, 
state-provided medical and nursing services are certainly 
much more efficient than the ministrations of the neigh- 
bours. But this increased efficiency is purchased at the 


price of a certain tendency on the part of neighbours to 
disclaim liability for one another and throw their responsi- 
bilities entirely upon the central authority. Under a 
perfectly organized system of state socialism charity would 
be, not merely superfluous, but actually criminal. Good 
Samaritans would be prosecuted for daring to interfere in 
their bungling amateurish way with what was obviously a 
case for state-paid professionals. 

The last three generations have witnessed a vast increase 
in the size and number of large cities. Life is more exciting 
and more money can be earned in the cities than in villages 
and small towns. Hence the migration from country to 
city. In the van of this migrating host have marched the 
ambitious, the talented, the adventurous. For more than a 
century there has been a tendency for the most gifted 
members of small rural communities to leave home and 
seek their fortunes in the towns. Consequently what 
remains in the villages and country towns of the indus- 
trialized countries is in the nature of a residual population, 
dysgenically selected for its lack of spirit and intellectual 
gifts. Why is it so hard to induce peasants and small 
fanners to adopt new scientific methods? Among other 
reasons, because almost every exceptionally intelligent child 
born into a rural family for a century past has taken the 
earliest opportunity of deserting the land for the city. 
Community life in the country is thus impoverished ; but 
(and this is the important point) the community life of the 
great urban centres is not correspondingly enriched. It is 
not enriched for the good reason that, in growing enormous, 
cities have also grown chaotic. A metropolitan 'wen,' as 
Cobbett was already calling the relatively tiny London of 
his day, is no longer an organic whole, no longer exists as 
a community, in whose life individuals can fruitfully par- 
ticipate. Men and women rub shoulders with other men 
and women; but the contact is external and mechanical. 



Each one of them can say, in the words of the Jolly Miller 
of the song, 'I care for nobody, no, not I, and nobody 
cares for me/ Metropolitan life is atomistic. The city, as 
a city, does nothing to correlate its human panicles into a 
pattern of responsible, communal living. What the country 
loses on the swings, the city loses all over again on the 

In the light of this statement of the principal reasons for 
the recent decline of the community and of die community 
sense in individuals, we can suggest certain remedies. For 
example, schools and colleges can be transformed into 
organic communities and used to offset, during a short 
period of the individual's career, the decay in family and 
village life. (A very interesting experiment in this direc- 
tion is being made at Black Mountain College in North 
Carolina.) To some extent, no doubt, the old 'natural' life 
of villages and small towns, the life that the economic, 
technological and religious circumstances of the past con- 
spired to impose upon them, can be replaced by a con- 
sciously designed synthetic product a life of associations 
organized for local government, for sport, for cultural 
activities and the like. Such associations already exist, and 
there should be no great difficulty in opening them to 
larger numbers and, at the same time, in making their 
activities so interesting that people will wish to join them 
iastead of taking the line of least resistance, as they do now, 
and living unconnected, atomistic lives, passively obeying 
during their working hours and passively allowing them- 
selves to be entertained by machinery during their hours of 
leisure. The existence of associations of this kind would 
serve to make country life less dull and so do something to 
arrest the flight towards the city. At the same time, the 
decentralization of industry and its association with agri- 
culture should make it possible for the countryman to earn 
as much as the city dweller. In spite of the ease with which 


electric power can now be distributed, the movement 
towards the decentralization of industry is not yet a very 
powerful one. Great centres of population, like London 
and Paris, possess an enormous power of attraction to 
industries. The greater the population, the greater the 
market; and the greater the market, the stronger the gravi- 
tational pull exercised upon the manufacturer. New indus- 
tries establish themselves on the outskirts of large cities and 
make them become still larger. For the sake of slightly 
increased profits, due to lower distributing costs, the manu- 
facturers are busily engaged in making London chaotically 
large, hopelessly congested, desperately hard to enter or 
leave, and vulnerable to air attacks as no other city of 
Europe is vulnerable. To compel a rational and planned 
decentralization of industry is one of the legitimate, the 
urgently necessary functions of the state. 

Life in the great city is atomistic. How shall it be given 
a communal pattern? How shall the individual be incor- 
porated in a responsible, self-governing group? In a 
modern city, the problem of organizing responsible com- 
munity life on a local basis is not easily solved. Modern 
cities have been created and are preserved by the labours 
of highly specialized technicians. The massacre of a few 
thousands of engineers, administrators and doctors would 
be sufficient to reduce any of the great metropolitan centres 
to a state of plague-stricken, starving chaos. Accordingly, 
in most of its branches, the local government of a great city 
has become a highly technical affair, a business of the kind 
that must be centrally planned and carried out by experts. 
The only department in which there would seem to be a 
possibility of profitably extending the existing institutions 
of local self-government is the department concerned with 
police-work and the observance of laws. I have read that 
in Japan, the cities were, and perhaps still are, divided into 
wards of about a hundred inhabitants apiece. The people 
F 81 


in each ward accepted a measure of liability for one another 
and were to some extent responsible for good behaviour 
and the observance of law within their own small unit. That 
such a system lends itself to the most monstrous abuses 
under a dictatorial government is obvious. Indeed, it is 
reported that the Nazis have already organized their cities 
in this way. But there is no governmental institution that 
cannot be abused. Elected parliaments have been used as 
instruments of oppression; plebiscites have served to con- 
firm and strengthen tyranny; courts of justice have been 
transformed into Star Chambers and military tribunals. 
Like all the rest, the ward system may be a source of good 
in a desirable context and a source of unmitigated evil in 
an undesirable context. It remains in any case a device 
worth considering by those who aspire to impose a com- 
munal pattern upon the atomistic, irresponsible life of 
modern city dwellers. For the rest, it looks as though the 
townsman's main experience of democratic institutions and 
responsible self-government would have to be obtained, 
not in local administration, but in the fields of industry 
and economics, of religious and cultural activity, of athletics 
and entertainment. 

In the preceding paragraphs I have tried to answer the 
first of our questions and have described the methods by 
which the principle of self-government can be applied to 
the daily lives of ordinary men and women. Our second 
question concerns the compatibility of self-government all 
round with the efficiency of industry in particular and 
society as a whole. In Russia self-government in industry 
was tried in the early years of the revolution and was 
abandoned in favour of authoritarian management. Within 
the factory discipline is no longer enforced by elected 
representatives of the Soviet or workers' committee, but by 
appointees of the Communist Party. The new conception 
of management current in Soviet Russia was summed up 


by Kaganovitch in a speech before the seventeenth con- 
gress of the Communist Party. 'Management/ he said, 
' means the power to distribute material things, to appoint 
and discharge subordinates, in a word, to be master of the 
particular enterprise/ This is a definition of management 
to which every industrial dictator in the capitalist countries 
would unhesitatingly subscribe. 

By supporters of the present Russian government it is 
said that the change over from self-government to authori- 
tarian management had to be made in the interests of effi- 
ciency. That extremely inexperienced and ill-educated 
workers should have been unable to govern themselves and 
keep up industrial efficiency seems likely enough. But in 
Western Europe and the United States such a situation is 
not likely to arise. Indeed, Dubreuil has pointed out that, 
as a matter of historical fact, self-government within fac- 
tories has often led to increased efficiency. It would seem, 
then, that in countries where all men and women are 
relatively well educated and have been accustomed for some 
time to the working of democratic institutions, there is no 
danger that self-government will lead to a breakdown of 
discipline within the factory or a decline in output. But, 
like * liberty,' the word * efficiency* covers a multitude of 
sins. Even if it should be irrefragably demonstrated that 
self-government in industry invariably led to greater con- 
tentment and increased output, even if it could be proved 
experimentally that the best features of individualism and 
collectivism could be combined if the state were to co- 
ordinate the activities of self-governin^jg^jittges, there 
would still be complainers of * i 
own lights, the complaints woulc 
the ruling classes, not only in 
the democratic countries, 
* military efficiency/ Now, aj 
ciple of self-government has 



activities of all its members, is a society which, for purely 
military purposes, is probably decidedly inefficient. A 
militarily efficient society is one whose members have been 
brought up in habits of passive obedience and at the head 
of which there is an individual exercising absolute authority 
through a perfectly trained hierarchy of administrators. In 
time of war, such a society can be manipulated as a single 
unit and with extraordinary rapidity and precision. A 
society composed of men and women habituated to working 
in self-governing groups is not a perfect war-machine. Its 
members may think and have wills of their own. But 
soldiers must not think nor have wills. * Theirs not to 
reason why; theirs but to do and die.' Furthermore, a 
society in which authority is decentralized, a society com- 
posed of co-ordinated but self-governing parts, cannot be 
manipulated so swiftly and certainly as a totalitarian society 
under a dictator. Self-government all round is not com- 
patible with military efficiency. So long as nations persist 
in using war as an instrument of policy, military efficiency 
will be prized above all else. Therefore schemes for extend- 
ing the principle of self-government will either not be tried 
at all or, if tried, as in Russia, will be speedily abandoned. 
Inevitably, we find ourselves confronted, yet oncei more, 
by the central evil of our time, the overpowering and 
increasing evil of war. In the next chapter I shall discuss 
possible methods for dealing with this evil. In what 
remains of the present chapter, I must try to answer our 
questions concerning the efficiency of a society made up of 
co-ordinated self-governing units and the nature of the 
co-ordinating body. 

Dubreuil has shown that even the largest industrial 
undertakings can be organized so as to consist of a number 
of co-ordinated but self-governing groups; and he has 
produced reasons for supposing that such an organization 
would not reduce the efficiency of the businesses concerned 



and might even increase it. This small-scale industrial 
democracy is theoretically compatible with any kind of 
large-scale control of the industries concerned. It can be 
(and in certain cases actually has been) applied to industries 
working under the capitalist system; to businesses under 
direct state control; to co-operative enterprises; to mixed 
concerns, like the Port of London Authority, which are 
under state supervision, but have their own autonomous, 
functional management. In practice this small-scale indus- 
trial democracy, this self-government for all, is intrinsically 
most compatible with business organizations of the last 
two kinds co-operative and mixed. It is almost equally 
incompatible with capitalism and state Socialism. Capital- 
ism tends to produce a multiplicity of petty dictators, each 
in command of his own little business kingdom. State 
Socialism tends to produce a single, centralized, totalitarian 
dictatorship, wielding absolute authority over all its subjects 
through a hierarchy of bureaucratic agents. 

Co-operatives and mixed concerns already exist and work 
extremely well. To increase their numbers and to extend 
their scope would not seem a revolutionary act, in the sense 
that it would probably not provoke the violent opposition 
which men feel towards projects involving an entirely new 
principle. In its effects, however, the act would be revolu- 
tionary; for it would result in a profound modification of 
the existing system. This alone is a sufficient reason for 
preferring these forms of ultimate industrial control to all 
others. The intrinsic compatibility of the co-operative 
enterprise and mixed concern with small-scale democracy 
and self-government all round constitutes yet another 
reason for the preference. To discuss the arrangements for 
co-ordinating the activities of partially autonomous co- 
operative and mixed concerns is not my business in this 
place. For technical details, the reader is referred once 
again to the literature of social and economic planning. I 


will confine myself here to quoting a relevant passage from 
the * admirable essay contributed by Professor David 
Mitrany to the Yale Review in 1934. Speaking of the need 
for comprehensive planning, Professor Mitrany writes that 
'this does not necessarily mean more centralized govern- 
ment and bureaucratic administration. 9 Public control is 
just as likely to mean decentralization as, for instance, the 
taking over from a nation-wide private corporation of 
activities and services which could be performed with 
better results by local authorities. Planning, in fact, if it 
is intelligent, should allow for a great variety of organiza- 
tion, and should adapt the structure and working of its 
parts to the requirements of each case. 

* A striking change of view on this point is evident in the 
paradox that the growing demand for state action comes 
together with a growing distrust of the state's efficiency. 
Hence, even among Socialists, as may be seen from the 
more recent Fabian tracts, the old idea of the nationaliza- 
tion of an industry under a government department, respon- 
sible to Parliament for both policy and management, has 
generally been replaced by schemes which even under 
public ownership provide for autonomous functional 
managements/ After describing the constitution of such 
mixed concerns as the Central Electricity Board (set up in 
England by a Conservative government), the British Broad- 
casting Corporation and the London Transport Board, 
Professor Mitrany concludes that it is only 'by some such 
means that the influence both of politics and of money can 
be eliminated. Radicals and Conservatives now agree on 
the need for placing the management of such public under- 
takings upon a purely functional basis, which reduces the 
role of Parliament or of any other representative body to a 
distant, occasional and indirect determination of general 

Above these semi-autonomous 'functional managers* 



there will have to be, it is clear, an ultimate co-ordinating 
authority a group of technicians whose business it will be 
to manage the managers. What is to prevent the central 
political executive from joining hands with these technical 
managers of managers to become the ruling oligarchy of a 
totalitarian state? The answer is that, so long as nations 
continue to prepare for the waging of scientific warfare, 
there is nothing whatever to prevent this from happening 
there is every reason, indeed, to suppose that it will 
happen. In the context of militarism, even the most 
intrinsically desirable changes inevitably become distorted. 
In a country which is preparing for modern war, reforms 
intended to result in decentralization and genuine demo- 
cracy will be made to serve the purposes of military effi- 
ciency which means in practice that they will be used to 
strengthen the position of a dictator or a ruling oligarchy. 

Where the international context is militaristic, dictators 
will use the necessity for 'defence* as their excuse for 
seizing absolute power. But even where there is no threat 
of war, the temptation to abuse a position of authority will 
always be strong. How shall our hypothetical managers of 
managers and the members of the central political executive 
be delivered from this evil ? This point is discussed at some 
length in the last paragraphs of the chapter on Inequality, 
to which the reader is referred. Ambition may be checked, 
but cannot be suppressed by any kind of legal machinery. 
If it is to be scotched, it must be scotched at the source, by 
education in the widest sense of the word. In our societies 
men are paranoiacally ambitious, because paranoiac ambi- 
tion is admired as a virtue, and successfiil climbers are 
adored as though they were gods. More books have been 
written about Napoleon than about any other human being. 
The fact is deeply and alarmingly significant. What must 
be the day-dreams of people for whom the world's most 
agile social climber and ablest bandit is the hero they most 



desire to hear about? Duces and Fuehrers will cease to 
plague the world only when the majority of its inhabitants 
regard such adventurers with the same disgust as they now 
bestow on swindlers and pimps. So long as men worship 
the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will 
duly arise and make them miserable. The proper atti- 
tude towards the 'hero' is not Carlyle's, but Bacon's. 
'He doth like the ape/ wrote Bacon of the ambitious tyrant, 
'he doth like the ape that, the higher he clymbes, the more 
he shewes his ars.' The hero's qualities are brilliant; but 
so is the mandril's rump. When all concur in the great 
Lord Chancellor's judgment of Fuehrers, there will be no 
more Fuehrers to judge. Meanwhile we must content 
ourselves by putting merely legal and administrative 
obstacles in the way of the ambitious. They are a great 
deal better than nothing; but they can never be completely 


Chapter IX 

TT'VERY road towards a better state of society is 
XL blocked, sooner or later, by war, by threats of 
war, by preparations for war. That is the truth, the 
odious and inescapable truth, that emerges, plain for all 
to see, from the discussions contained in the preceding 

Let us very briefly consider the nature of war, the causes 
of war and the possible alternatives to war, the methods 
of curing the mania of militarism afflicting the world at 
the present time. 1 

I. Nature of War 

(i) War is a purely human phenomenon. The lower 
animals fight duels in the heat of sexual excitement and 
kill for food and occasionally for sport. But the activities 
of a wolf eating a sheep or a cat playing with a mouse 
are no more war-like than the activities of butchers and 
fox-hunters. Similarly, fights between hungry dogs or 
rutting stags are like pot-house quarrels and have nothing 
in common with war, which is mass murder organized in 
cold blood. Some social insects, it is true, go out to fight 
in armies; but their attacks are always directed against 
members of another species. Man is unique in organizing 
the mass murder of his own species. 

1 Certain passages in this chapter are reprinted with little alteration 
from articles contributed to An Encyclopaedia of Pacifism (London, 


(\i) Certain biologists, of whom Sir Arthur Keith is the 
most eminent, consider that war acts as * nature's pruning 
hook,' ensuring the survival of the fittest among civilized 
individuals and nations. This is obviously nonsensical. 
War tends to eliminate the young and strong and to 
spare the unhealthy. Nor is there any reason for supposing 

that people with traditions of violence and a good technique 


of war-making are superior to other peoples. The most 
valuable human beings are not necessarily the most war- 
like. Nor as a matter of historical fact is it always the 
most war-like who survive. We can sum up by saying that, 
so far as individuals are concerned, war selects dysgenically ; 
so far as nations and peoples are concerned it selects purely 
at random, sometimes ensuring the domination and survival 
of the more war-like peoples, sometimes, on the contrary, 
ensuring their destruction and the survival of the unwarlike. 
(iii) There exist at the present time certain primitive 
human societies, such as that of the Eskimos, in which 
war is unknown and even unthinkable. All civilized 
societies, however, are war-like. The question arises 
whether the correlation between war and civilization is 
necessary and unavoidable. The evidence of archaeology 
seems to point to the conclusion that war made its appear- 
ance at a particular moment in the history of early 
civilization. There is reason to suppose that the rise of 
war was correlated with an abrupt change in the mode of 
human consciousness. This change, as Dr. J. D. Unwin 
suggests, 1 may itself have been correlated with increased 
sexual continence on the part of the ruling classes of the 
war-like societies. The archaeological symptom of this 
change is the almost sudden appearance of royal palaces 
and elaborate funerary monuments. The rise of war 
appears to be connected with the rise of self-conscious 
leaders, preoccupied with the ideas of personal domination 
1 In Sex and Culture (Oxford, 1934). 


and personal survival after death. Even to-day, when 
economic considerations are supposed to be supreme, ideas 
of 'glory* and 'immortal fame* still ferment in the minds 
of the dictators and generals, and play an important part 
in the causation of war. 

(iv) The various civilizations of the world have adopted 
fundamentally different attitudes towards war. Compare 
the Chinese and Indian attitudes towards war with the 
European. Europeans have always worshipped the military 
hero and, since the rise of Christianity, the martyr. Not 
so the Chinese. The ideal human being, according to 
Confucian standards, is the just, reasonable, humane and 
cultivated man, living at peace in an ordered and har- 
monious society. Confucianism, to quote Max Weber, 
'prefers a wise prudence to mere physical courage and 
declares that an untimely sacrifice of life is unfitting for 
a wise man/ Our European admiration for military 
heroism and martyrdom has tended to make men believe 
that a good death is more important than a good life, and 
that a long course of folly and crime can be cancelled out 
by a single act of physical courage. The mysticism of 
Lao Tsu (or whoever was the author of the Tao Teh 
Ching) confirms and completes the rationalism of Con- 
fucius. The Tao is an eternal cosmic principle that is, 
at the same time, the inmost root of the individual's being. 
Those who would live in harmony with Tao must refrain 
from assertiveness, self-importance and aggressiveness, 
must cultivate humility, and return good for evil. 

Since the time of Confucius and Lao Tsu, Chinese ideals 
have been essentially pacifistic. European poets have 
glorified war; European theologians have found justifica- 
tions for religious persecution and nationalistic aggression. 
This has not been so in China. Chinese philosophers and 
Chinese poets have almost all been anti-militarists. The 
soldier was regarded as an inferior being, not to be put 

9 1 


on the same level with the scholar or administrator. It is 
one of the tragedies of history that the Westernization of 
China should have meant the progressive militarization of 
a culture which, for nearly three thousand years, has 
consistently preached the pacifist ideal. Conscription was 
imposed on large numbers of Chinese in 1936, and the 
soldier is now held up for admiration. Comic, but 
significant, is the following quotation from the New York 
Times of June lyth, 1937: 'Sin Wan Poo, Shanghai's 
leading Chinese language newspaper, advised Adolf Hitler 
and Benito Mussolini to-day to follow the examples of 
General Yang Sen . . . war lord and commander of the 
Twentieth Army in Szechwan Province. The general has 
twenty-seven wives. "Only 40 years old, General Yang 
has a child for every year of his fife," the newspaper said. 
"General Yang has established complete military training 
for his offspring. It begins when a young Yang reaches 
the age of 7, with strict treatment by the time the child 
is 14. The family has an exclusive military camp. When 
visitors come, the Yang children hold a military reception 
and march past the guests in strict review order." ' One 
laughs; but the unfortunate truth is that General Yang 
and the forty little Yangs in their strict review order are 
grotesquely symptomatic of the new, worse, Western spirit 
of a China that has turned its back on the wisdom of 
Confucius and Lao Tsu and gone whoring after European 
militarism. Japanese aggression is bound to intensify this 
new militaristic spirit in China. Within a couple of genera- 
tions from now, it is quite possible that China will be an 
aggressive imperialist power. 

Indian pacifism finds its completest expression in the 
teaching of Buddha. Buddhism, like Hinduism, teaches 
ahimsa, or harmlessness towards all living beings. It for- 
bids even laymen to have anything to do with the 
manufacture and sale of arms, with the making of poisons 



and intoxicants, with soldiering or the slaughter of animals. 
Alone of all the great world religions, Buddhism made its 
way without persecution, censorship or inquisition. In all 
these respects its record is enormously superior to that of 
Christianity, which made its way among people wedded to 
militarism and which was able to justify the bloodthirsty 
tendencies of its adherents by an appeal to the savage 
Bronze-Age literature of the Old Testament. For Bud- 
dhists, anger is always and unconditionally disgraceful. For 
Christians, brought up to identify Jehovah with God, there 
is such a thing as "righteous indignation/ Thanks to this 
possibility of indignation being righteous, Christians have 
always felt themselves justified in making war and commit- 
ting the most hideous atrocities. 

The fact that it should have been possible for the three 
principal civilizations of the world to adopt three distinct 
philosophic attitudes towards war is encouraging; for it 
proves that there is nothing 'natural* about our present 
situation in relation to war. The existence of war and of 
our political and theological justifications of war is no 
more ' natural* than were the sanguinary manifestations of 
sexual jealousy, so common in Europe up to the beginning 
of last century and now of such rare occurrence. To 
murder one's unfaithful wife, or the lover of one's sister 
or mother, was something that used to be 'done/ Being 
socially correct, it was regarded as inevitable, a manifestation 
of unchanging ' human nature/ Such murders are no longer 
fashionable among the best people, therefore no longer seem 


to us 'natural/ The malleability of human nature is such 
that there is no reason why, if we so desire and set to 
work in the right way, we should not rid ourselves of war 
as we have freed ourselves from the weary necessity of 
committing a crime passionnd every time a wife, mistress 
or female relative gets herself seduced. War is not a law 
of nature, nor even a law of human nature. It exists 



because men wish it to exist; and we know, as a matter of 
historical fact, that the intensity of that wish has varied 
from absolute zero to a frenzied maximum. The wish for 
war in the contemporary world is widespread and of high 
intensity. But our wills are to some extent free; we can 
wish otherwise than we actually do. It is enormously 
difficult for us to change our wishes in this matter; but 
the enormously difficult is not the impossible. We must 
be grateful for even the smallest crumbs of comfort. 

EL Causes of War 

War exists because people wish it to exist. They wish 
it to exist for a variety of reasons. 

(i) Many people like war because they find their peace- 
time occupations either positively humiliating and frustra- 
ting, or just negatively boring. In their studies on suicide 
Durkheim and, more recently, Halbwachs have shown that 
the suicide rate among non-combatants tends to fall during 
war-time to about two-thirds of its normal figure. This 
decline must be put down to the following causes : to the 
simplification of life during war-time (it is in complex and 
highly developed societies that the suicide rate is highest); 
to the intensification of nationalist sentiment to a point 
where most individuals are living in a state of chronic 
enthusiasm; to the fact that life during war-time takes on 
significance and purposefulness, so that even the most 
intrinsically boring job is ennobled as * war-work*; to the 
artificial prosperity induced, at any rate for a time, by the 
expansion of war industies; to the increased sexual freedom 
which is always claimed by societies, all or some of whose 
members live under the menace of sudden death. Add to 
this the fact that life in war-time is (or at least was in 
previous wars) extremely interesting, at least during the 
first years of die war. Rumour runs riot, and the papers 



are crammed every morning with the most thrilling news. 
To the influence of the press must be attributed the fact 
that, whereas during the Franco-Prussian War the suicide 
rate declined only in the belligerent countries, during the 
World War a considerable decline was registered even in 
the neutral states. In 1870 about half the inhabitants of 
Europe were unable to read, and newspapers were few and 
expensive. By 1914 primary education had everywhere been 
compulsory for more than a generation and the addiction to 
newspaper reading had spread to all classes of the popula- 
tion. Thus even neutrals were able to enjoy, vicariously 
and at second hand, the exciting experience of war. 

Up to the end of the last war non-combatants, except in 
countries actually subject to invasion, were not in great 
physical danger. In any future war it is clear that they 
will be exposed to risks almost, if not quite, as great as 
those faced by the fighting men. This will certainly tend 
to diminish the enthusiasm of non-combatants for war. 
But if it turns out that the effects of air bombardment are 
less frightful than most experts at present believe they will 
be, this enthusiasm may not be extinguished altogether, at 
any rate during the first months of a war. During the last 
war, a fair proportion of the combatants actually enjoyed 
some phases at least of the fighting. The escape from the 
dull and often stultifying routines of peace-time life was 
welcomed, even though that escape was bought at the price 
of physical hardship and the risk of death and mutilation. 
It is possible that conditions in any future war will be so 
appalling that even the most naturally adventurous and 
combative human beings will soon come to hate and fear 
the process of fighting. But until the next war actually 
breaks out, nobody can have experience of the new 
conditions of fighting. Meanwhile, all the governments 
are actively engaged in making a subtle kind of propa- 
ganda that is directed against potential enemies, but not 



against war. They warn their subjects that they will be 
bombarded from die air by fleets of enemy planes; they 
persuade or compel them to subject themselves to air-raid 
drills and other forms of military discipline; they proclaim 
the necessity of piling up enormous armaments for the 
purpose of counter-attack and retaliation, and they actually 
build those armaments to the tune, in most European 
countries, of nearly or fully half the total national revenue. 
At the same time they do all in their power to belittle 
the danger from air raids. Millions of gas-masks are made 
and distributed with assurances that they will provide com- 
plete protection. Those who make such assurances know 
quite well that they are false. Gas-masks cannot be worn 
by infants, invalids or the old, and give no protection 
whatsoever against vesicants and some of the poisonous 
smokes, which for this reason will be the chemicals chiefly 
used by the air navies of the world. Meanwhile warnings 
by impartial experts are either officially ignored or belittled. 
(The attitude of the Government's spokesman at the British 
Medical Association meeting at Oxford in 1936, and that 
of The Times in 1937 towards the Cambridge scientists who 
warned the public against the probable effects of air bom- 
bardment, are highly significant in this context.) The whole 
effort of all the governments is directed, I repeat, to making 
propaganda against enemies and in favour of war; against 
those who try to tell the truth about the nature and effects 
of the new armaments and in favour of manufacturing such 
armaments in ever-increasing quantities. There are two 
reasons why such propaganda is as successful as it is. The 
first, as I have explained in this paragraph, must be sought 
in the fact that, up to the present, many non-combatants 
and some combatants have found war a welcome relief from 
the tedium of peace. The second reason will be set forth 
in the following paragraph, which deals with another aspect 
of the psychological causation of war. 


(ii) A principal cause of war is nationalism, and national- 
ism is immensely popular because it is psychologically 
satisfying to individual nationalists. Every nationalism is 
an idolatrous religion, in which the god is the personified 
state, represented in many instances by a more or less 
deified king or dictator. Membership of the ex hypothesi 
divine nation is thought of as imparting a kind of mystical 
pre-eminence. Thus, all * God's Englishmen* are superior 
to 'the lesser breeds without the law,* and every individual 
God's-Englishman is entitled to think himself superior to 
every member of the lesser breed, even the lordliest and 
wealthiest, even the most intelligent, the most highly gifted, 
the most saintly. Any man who believes strongly enough 
in the local nationalistic idolatry can find in his faith an 
antidote against even the most acute inferiority complex. 
Dictators feed the flames of national vanity and reap their 
reward in the gratitude of millions to whom the conviction 
that they are participants in the glory of the divine nation 
brings relief from the gnawing consciousness of poverty, 
social unimportance and personal insignificance. 

Self-esteem has as its complement disparagement of 
others. Vanity and pride beget contempt and hatred. But 
contempt and hatred are exciting emotions emotions from 
which people 'get a kick/ Devotees of one national 
idolatry enjoy getting the kick of hatred and contempt for 
devotees of other idolatries. They pay for that enjoyment 
by having to prepare for the wars which hatred and con- 
tempt render almost inevitable. Another point. In the 
normal course of events most men and women behave 
tolerably well. This means that they must frequently 
repress their anti-social impulses. They find a vicarious 
satisfaction for these impulses through films and stories 
about gangsters, pirates, swindlers, bad bold barons and 
the like. Now, the personified nation, as I have pointed 
out already, is divine in size, strength and mystical 

G 97 


superiority, but sub-human in moral character. The ethics 
of international politics are precisely those of the gangster, 
the pirate, the swindler, the bad bold baron. The exemplary 
citizen can indulge in vicarious criminality, not only on the 
films, but also in the field of international relations. The 
divine nation of whom he is mystically a part bullies and 
cheats, blusters and threatens in a way which many people 
find profoundly satisfying to their sedulously repressed 
lower natures. Submissive to the wife, kind to the children, 
courteous to the neighbours, the soul of honesty in business, 
the good citizen feels a thrill of delight when his country 
* takes a strong line,* * enhances its prestige,* * scores a 
diplomatic victory,* * increases its territory* in other words, 
when it bluffs, bullies, swindles and steals. The nation is 
a strange deity. It imposes difficult duties and demands the 
greatest sacrifices and, because it does this and because 
human beings have a hunger and thirst after righteousness, 
it is loved. But it is also loved because it panders to the 
lowest elements in human nature and because men and 
women like to have excuses to feel pride and hatred, 
because they long to taste even at second hand the joys 
of criminality. 

So much for the psychological causes of war or, to be 
more exact, the psychological background whose existence 
makes possible the waging of wars. We have now to 
consider the immediate causes of war. Ultimately, they 
also are psychological; but since they display special forms 
of human behaviour and since these special forms of 
behaviour manifest themselves in certain highly organized 
fields of activity, we prefer to call them 'political' and 
'economic* causes. For the purposes of classification, this 
is convenient; but the convenience has its disadvantages. 
We are apt to think of 'politics* and 'economics* as im- 
personal forces outside the domain of psychology, working 
in some way on their own and apart from human beings. 


To the extent that human beings are habit-bound and 
conditioned by their social environment, politics and 
economics possess a certain limited autonomy; for wherever 
a social organization exists, individuals tend to submit them- 
selves to the workings of its machinery. But man is not 
made for the Sabbath, nor is he invariably willing to believe 
that he is made for the Sabbath. To some extent his will 
is free, and from time to time he remembers the fact and 
alters the organizational machinery around him to suit 
his needs. When this happens the conception of politics 
and economics as autonomous forces, independent of human 
psychology, becomes completely misleading. It is con- 
venient, I repeat, to class the economic and political causes 
of war under separate headings. But we must not forget 
that all such causes are ultimately psychological in their 

(iii) The first of the political causes of war is war itself. 
Many wars have been fought, among other reasons, for 
the sake of seizing some strategically valuable piece of 
territory, or in order to secure a 'natural* frontier that 
is to say, a frontier which it is easy to defend and from 
which it is easy to launch attacks upon one's neighbours. 
Purely military advantages are almost as highly prized by 
the rulers of nations as economic advantages. The pos- 
session of an army, navy and air force is in itself a reason 
for going to war. * We must use our forces now,* so runs 
the militarist's argument, 'in order that we. may be in a 
position to use them to better effect next time/ 

The part played by armaments in causing war may 
properly be considered under this heading. All statesmen 
insist that the armaments of their own country are solely 
for purposes of defence. At the same time, all statesmen 
insist that the existence of armaments in a foreign country 
constitutes a reason for the creation of new armaments at 
home. Every nation is perpetually taking more and more 



elaborate defensive measures against the more and more 
elaborate defensive measures of all other nations. The 
armament race would go on ad infinitum, if it did not 
inevitably and invariably lead to war. Armaments lead to 
war for two reasons. The first is psychological. The exist- 
ence of armaments in one country creates fear, suspicion, 
resentment and hatred in neighbouring countries. In such 
an atmosphere, any dispute easily becomes envenomed to 
the point of being made a casus beUL The second is 
technical in character. Armaments become obsolete, and 
to-day the rate of obsolescence is rapid and accelerating. 
At the present rate of technological progress an aeroplane 
is likely to be out of date within a couple of years, or less. 
This means that, for any given country, there is likely to 
be an optimum moment of preparedness, a moment when 
its equipment is definitely superior to that of other nations. 
Within a very short rime this superiority will disappear 
and the nation will be faced with die task of scrapping its 
now obsolescent equipment and building new equipment 
equal to, or if possible better than, the new equipment of 
its neighbours. The financial strain of such a process is 
one which only the richest countries can stand for long. 
For poorer nations it is unendurable. Hence there will 
always be a strong temptation for the rulers of the poor 
countries to declare war during the brief period when their 
own military equipment is superior to that of their rivals. 

The fact that armaments are to a great extent manu- 
factured by private firms and that these private firms have 
a financial interest in selling weapons of war to their own 
and foreign governments is also a contributory cause of 
war. This matter will be dealt with in a later section. 

(iv) Wars may be made for the purpose of furthering a 
religious or political creed. The Mohammedan invasions, 
the Crusades, the Wars of Religion during the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, the French Revolutionary Wars, 



the American Civil War, the Spanish Civil War are all 
examples of what may be called ideological wars. True, 
the makers of ideological wars were to some extent in- 
fluenced by non-ideological considerations by greed for 
wealth and dominion, by desire for glory, and the like. 
But in all cases the ideological motive was paramount 
Unless there had been a desire to propagate a new creed 
or defend an old, these wars would not have been fought 
Moreover, the fighting would not have been so bitter as 
in fact it generally was, if the fighters had not been inspired 
by religious or pseudo-religious faith. The aim of modern 
nationalistic propaganda is to transform men's normal 
affection for their home into a fiercely exclusive worship of 
the deified nation. Disputes between nations are beginning 
to take on that uncompromising, fanatical quality which, 
in the past, characterized the dealings between groups of 
religious or political sectaries. It looks as though all future 
wars will be as ferociously ideological as the old wars 
of religion. 

(v) In the past, many wars were fought for the sake of 
the * glory * resulting from victory. The glory was generally 
thought of as belonging to the leader of the army, or the 
king his master. The Assyrian monarchs fought for glory; 
so did Alexander the Great; so did many mediaeval 
kings and lords; so did Louis XIV and the dynasts of 
eighteenth-century Europe; so did Napoleon; so perhaps 
will the modern dictators. Where countries are ruled by 
a single individual at the head of a military oligarchy, there 
is always a danger that personal vanity and the thirst for 
glory may act as motives driving him to embroil his country 
in war. 

(vi) Glory is generally regarded as the perquisite of the 
general or king; but not always or exclusively. In a 
country whose people are moved by strong nationalistic 
feelings, glory can be thought of as pertaining in some 



degree to every member of the community. All Englishmen 
shdred in the glory of their Tudor monarchs ; all Frenchmen 
in that of Louis XIV. During the French Revolution, a 
deliberate attempt was made to popularize glory by means 
of written and spoken propaganda. The attempt was fully 
successful. Similar attempts are being made all over the 
world to-day. The press, the radio and the film bring 
national glory within the reach of all. When things go 
badly at home and his people start to complain, the dictator 
is always tempted to manufacture a little compensatory 
glory abroad. Glory was a good deal cheaper in the past 
than it is to-day. Moreover, the dictatorial war lord of 
earlier times did not have to consider public opinion to the 
same extent that even the most absolute of his modern 
counterparts must do. The reason is simple. In the past 
the glory-making machine was a small professional army. 
So long as the battles were being fought at a reasonable 
distance from their homes, people did not feel much concern 
about this professional army; its sufferings did not affect 
them personally, and when it won a victory, they got the 
glory vicariously and free of charge. To-day every man 
must serve as a conscript, and the aeroplane has made war 
almost as dangerous for non-combatants as for front-line 
fighters. Glory must be paid for by all ; war is now the affair 
of every man, woman and child in the community. The 
cost of modern war in life and money is so enormous and 
must be so widely distributed, its possible effects on public 
opinion and the structure of society so incalculable, that 
even dictators hesitate to make their people fight except 
where * national honour* and * vital interests' are concerned. 
Twentieth-century armaments are an insurance against 
small and trivial wars. On the other hand, they are an 
absolute guarantee that when "vital interests 9 and 'national 
honour' are at stake, the resulting war shall be un- 
precedentedly destructive. 



(vii) Of the economic causes of war the first in historical 
importance is the desire of one nation to possess itself of 
fertile territory belonging to another nation. Hitler, for 
example, has stated that the Germans need new territory 
Ln which to accommodate their surplus population. If 
Germany goes to war with Russia it will be, in part at 
least, to satisfy this real or imaginary craving for more 
and better land. 

In modern times wars have been fought not so much 
for fertile lands as for the possession or control of raw 
materials indispensable to industry. The iron ore of 
Lorraine has been a bone of contention between France 
and Germany. Japan's activities in Manchuria and Northern 
China can be explained, at least in part, by need for 
minerals. Italian and German participation in the Spanish 
Civil War has not been exclusively motivated by ideo- 
logical considerations. The two Fascist dictators have 
their eyes on the copper of Rio Tinto, the iron of 
Bilbao, which before the outbreak of war were under 
English control. 

(viii) Under capitalism all highly industrialized countries 
need foreign markets. The reason for this is that, where 
production is carried on for profit, it is difficult or impossible 
to distribute enough purchasing power to enable people to 
buy the things they themselves have produced. Defects 
in domestic purchasing power have to be made up by 
finding foreign markets. The imperialistic activities of the 
great powers during the nineteenth century were directed 
in large measure towards securing markets for their pro- 
ductions. But and this is one of the strangest paradoxes 
of the capitalist system no sooner has a market been 
secured, either by conquest or peaceful penetration, than 
the very industrialists who manufacture for that market 
proceed to equip the conquered or peacefully penetrated 
country with the machinery that will enable it to dispense 



with their goods. Most of the industrially backward 
countries have been equipped to provide for themselves, 
and even to export a surplus, by those very capitalists who 
originally used them as markets for their own productions. 
Such a policy seems and, on a long view, actually is com- 
pletely lunatic. On a short view, however, it is sensible 
enough. Capitalists are concerned not only to sell their 
production, but also to invest their savings. Savings 
invested in industrial concerns newly established in back- 
ward countries, where the standard of living is low and 
labour can be sweated, generally bring enormous returns, 
at any rate during the first years. For the sake of these 
huge temporary profits capitalists are prepared to sacrifice 
the smaller but more lasting profits to be derived from 
using these same backward countries as markets for their 
productions. In course of time the profits of oversea 
investment diminish, and meanwhile the markets have been 
lost for ever. But in the interval capitalists have earned a 
huge return on their investments. 

(ix) This brings us to an extremely important cause of 
war the pursuit by politically powerful minorities within 
each nation of their own private interests. The worst, or 
at any rate the most conspicuous, offenders in this respect 
are the manufacturers of armaments. It is unnecessary for 
me to cite facts and figures; they are available in a number 
of well-documented, easily accessible books and pamphlets. 1 
It is enough to state the following simple generalizations. 
War and the preparation for war are profitable to the arms 
manufacturer. The more heavily the nations arm, the 
greater his profits. This being so, he is tempted to foment 
war scares, to pit government against government, to use 
every means in his power, from bribery to * patriotic* 
propaganda, in order to stultify all efforts at disarmament. 

1 See the relevant works of Seldes and Noel Baker, and the pamphlets 
published by the Union of Democratic Control 



The historical records show that the manufacturers of 
armaments have only too frequently succumbed to these 

One of the measures common to the programmes of all 
the world's left-wing parties is the nationalization of the 
arms industry. To a certain extent all states are already 
in the armaments business. In England, for example, the 
government arsenals produce about five-twelfths of the 
nation's arms, private firms about seven-twelfths. Complete 
nationalization would thus be merely the wider application 
of a well-established principle. 

Now the complete nationalization of the arms industry 
would certainly achieve one good result: it would liberate 
governments from the influence of socially irresponsible 
capitalists, interested solely in making large profits. So far, 
so good. But the trouble is that this particular reform does 
not go far enough goes, in fact, hardly anywhere at all. 
Armaments are armaments, whoever manufactures them. 
A plane from a government factory can kill as many 
women and children as a plane from a factory owned by 
a private capitalist. Furthermore, the fact that armaments 
were being manufactured by the state would serve in some 
measure to legalize and justify an intrinsically abominable 
practice. The mass of unthinking public opinion would 
come to feel that an officially sanctioned arms industry was 
somehow respectable. Consequently the total abolition of 
the whole evil business would become even more difficult 
than it is at present. This difficulty would be enhanced 
by the fact that a central executive having complete control 
of the arms industry would be very reluctant to part with 
such an effective instrument of tyranny. For an instrument 
of tyranny is precisely what a nationalized armaments 
industry potentially is. The state is more powerful than 
any private employer, and the personnel of a completely 
nationalized arms industry could easily be dragooned and 



bribed into becoming a kind of technical army under the 
control of the executive. 

Finally, we must consider the effect of nationalization 
upon international affairs. Under the present dispensa- 
tion adventurers like the late Sir Basil Zaharoff are free 
(within the limits imposed by the licensing system) to 
travel about, fanning the flames of international discord 
and peddling big guns and submarines. This is a state 
of things which should certainly be changed. But the 
state of things under a regime of nationalization is only 
a little better. Once in business, even governments like 
to make a profit; and the arms business will not cease to 
be profitable because it has been nationalized. Then, 
as now, industrially backward states will have to buy 
arms from the highly industrialized countries. All highly 
industrialized states will desire to sell armaments, not only 
for the sake of profits, but also in order to exercise control 
over the policy of their customers. Inevitably, this will 
result in the growth of intense rivalry between the industrial- 
ized powers yet another rivalry, yet another potential 
cause of international discord and war. It would seem, 
then, that the nationalization of the armaments industry is 
merely the substitution of one evil for another. The new 
evil will be less manifest, less morally shocking than the 
old; but it is by no means certain that, so far as war is 
concerned, the results of nationalization will be perceptibly 
better than the results of private manufacture. What is 
needed is not the nationalization of the arms industry, but 
its complete abolition. Abolition will come when the 
majority wish it to come. The process of persuading the 
majority to wish it will be described in the next chapter. 

The manufacturers of armaments are not the only 
'merchants of death.' To some extent, indeed, we all 
deserve that name. For in so far as we vote for govern- 
ments that impose tariffs and quotas, in so far as we 



support policies of re-armament, in so far as we consent 
to our country's practice of economic, political and military 
imperialism, in so far even as we behave badly in private 
life, we are all doing our bit to bring the next war nearer. 
The responsibility of the rich and the powerful, however, 
is greater than that of ordinary men; for they are better 
paid for what they do to bring war closer and they know 
more clearly what they are about. Less spectacularly 
mischievous than the armament makers, but in reality 
hardly less harmful, are the speculative investors who 
preach imperialism because they can derive such high 
returns on their capital in backward countries. To the 
nation as a whole its colonies may be unprofitable, and 
actually costly. But to the politically powerful minority 
of financiers with capital to invest, of industrialists with 
surplus goods to dispose of, these same colonies may be 
sources of handsome profits. 

The small, but politically powerful, minority of financiers 
and industrialists is also interested in various forms of 
economic imperialism. By a judicious use of their re- 
sources, the capitalists of highly industrialized nations stake 
out claims for themselves within nominally independent 
countries. Those claims are then represented as being the 
claims of their respective nations, and the quarrels between 
the various financial interests concerned become quarrels 
between states. The peace of the world has frequently 
been endangered, in order that oil magnates might grow 
a little richer. 

In the press, which is owned by rich men, the interests 
of the investing minority are always identified (doubtless 
in perfectly good faith) with those of the nation as a whole. 
Constantly repeated statements come to be accepted as 
truths. Innocent and ignorant, most newspaper readers 
are convinced that the private interests of the rich are really 
public interests and become indignant whenever these 



interests are menaced by a foreign power, intervening on 
behalf of its investing minority. The interests at stake 
are the interests of the few; but the public opinion which 
demands the protection of these interests is often a genuine 
expression of mass emotion. The many really feel and 
believe that the dividends of the few are worth fighting for. 

(x) Remedies and Alternatives. So much for the nature 
and causes of war. We must now consider, first, the 
methods for preventing war from breaking out and for 
checking it once it has begun and, second, the political 
alternatives and psychological equivalents to war. 

It will be best to begin with the existing methods of war 
preventions. These methods are not conspicuously success- 
ful for two good reasons: first, they are in many cases of 
such a nature that they cannot conceivably produce the 
desired results and, second, even when intrinsically excel- 
lent, they are not calculated to eliminate the existing causes 
of war or to provide psychologically equivalent substitutes 
for war. Accordingly, after describing and discussing the 
methods at present in use, I shall go on to outline the 
methods which should be used, if the causes of war are 
to be eliminated and suitable alternatives to war created. 

The hopes which so many men and women of good will 
once rested in the League of Nations have been dis- 
appointed. The failure of the League of Nations to secure 
the pacification of the world is due in part to historical 
accident, but mainly to the fact that it was based on entirely 
wrong principles. The historical accident which stultified 
the League's ability to do good was the refusal of the 
Americans to join it and the exclusion for many years of 
the * enemy powers' and Russia. But even if America, 
Germany and Russia had all been original members, it is 
still as certain as any contingency can be that the League 
would not have produced the good results expected of it. 
The League admits to membership any community, how- 


ever small, which possesses an army of its own. No 
community, however large, which does not possess an 
army is eligible. In practice and by implication the League 
defines a nation as "a society organized for war/ And 
effectively this is the only definition of a nation that 
applies to all the existing members of the class. Every 
other definition, in terms of race, of colour, of language, 
of culture and even of simple topography, is proved to 
be inadequate by the existence of exceptions. Formally 
and in fact, the League of Nations is a league of societies 
organized for war. 

The militarism which is built into the very definition of 
the League finds expression in the means whereby, under 
its present constitution, it is proposed to secure peace. 
The framers of the League Covenant did what many of 
the framers of the American Constitution desired to do, 
but were fortunately dissuaded by Alexander Hamilton 
from doing : they inserted a clause decreeing first economic 
and then military sanctions against an "aggressor. 9 

Sanctions are objectionable for exactly the same reasons as 
war is objectionable. Military sanctions ore war. Economic 
sanctions, if applied with vigour, must inevitably lead to 
war-like reactions on the part of the nation to which they 
are applied, and these war-like reactions can only be 
countered by military sanctions. Sanctionists call their 
brand of war by high-sounding names. We must not 
allow ourselves to be deceived by mere words. In the 
actual circumstances of the present day, "collective security* 
means a system of military alliances opposed to another 
system of military alliances. The first system calls itself 
the League; the second is nominated in advance "the 

Once war has broken out, nations will consult their own 
interests whether to fight or remain neutral; they will not 
permit any international agreement to dictate their course 



of action. Speaking on November ioth, 1936, Mr. Eden 
stated that 'our armaments may be used in bringing help 
to a victim of aggression in any case where, in our judgment, 
it would be proper under the provision of the Covenant to 
do so. I use the word "may** deliberately, since in such 
an instance there is no automatic obligation to take military 
action. It is, moreover, right that this should be so, for 
nations cannot be expected to incur automatic military 
obligations save for areas where their vital interests are 
concerned/ Upholding the League Covenant is not 
regarded as a vital interest by any nation. Nor, so far as 
Article XVI is concerned, ought it to be so regarded. 
Justice, like charity, begins at home, and no government 
has the moral right gratuitously to involve its subjects in 
war. War is so radically wrong that any international 
agreement which provides for the extension of hostilities 
from a limited area to the whole world is manifestly based 
upon unsound principles. Modern war destroys with the 
maximum of efficiency and the maximum of indiscrimina- 
tion, and therefore entails the commission of injustices far 
more numerous and far worse than any it is intended to 
redress. It is worth remarking in this context that it is 
now possible to be an orthodox Catholic and a complete 
pacifist. To condemn war as such and to refuse, as the 
Quakers and other Protestant sects have done, to participate 
in any war whatsoever, is heretical. St. Thomas has laid 
it down that war is justified when waged in defence of 
the vital interests of a community. Starting from the 
Thomist position, certain Catholic thinkers, notably in 
Holland and England, have reached the conclusion that, 
though it may be heretical to condemn war as war, one 
can be a complete pacifist in relation to war in its con- 
temporary form and still remain orthodox. War is justified 
when it is waged in defence of the vital interests of the 
community. But the nature of modern war is such that 



the vital interests of the community cannot be defended 
by it; on the contrary, they must inevitably suffer more 
from the waging of war than they would suffer by non- 
resistance to violence. Therefore, in the circumstances of 
the present time, complete pacifism is reasonable, right and 
even orthodox. Bertrand Russell's pacifism is based upon 
exactly the same considerations of expediency as that of 
these neo-Thomists. His and their arguments are peculiarly 
relevant to the problem of sanctions. For what the 
sanctionists demand is that wars which, in the very nature 
of things, cannot do anything except destroy the vital 
interests of the communities concerned in them, should 
be automatically transformed from wars between two or 
a few nations into universal combats, bringing destruction 
and injustice to all the peoples of the world. 

To this contention sanctionists reply by asserting that 
the mere display of great military force by League members 
will be enough to deter would-be aggressors. The greater 
your force, die slighter the probability that you will have 
to use it; therefore, they argue, re-arm for the sake of 
peace. The facts of history do not bear out this contention. 
Threats do not frighten the determined nor do the desperate 
shrink before a display of overwhelming force. Moreover, 
in the contemporary world, there is no reason to suppose 
that the force mustered against an aggressor will be over- 
whelming. 'The League' and 'the Aggressor* will be two 
well-matched sets of allied powers. Indeed, the com- 
position of these two alliances is already pretty well settled. 
France, Russia, and probably England are booked to appear 
as 'The League'; Italy, Germany and Japan as 'the 
Aggressor/ The smaller nations will remain neutral, or 
back whichever side they think is likely to win. As for 
the sancrionist's exhortation to re-arm for the League and 
for peace, this is merely a modern version of si vis pacem, 
para helium. Those who prepare for war start up an 



armament race and, in due course, get the war they 
prepare for. 

According to sanctionist theory, the League is to take 
military action in order to bring about a just settlement of 
disputes. But the prospects of achieving a just settlement 
at the end of a League war are no better than at the end of 
any other kind of war. Wars result in just settlements only 
when the victors behave with magnanimity, only when 
they make amends for violence by being just and humane. 
But when wars have been fierce and prolonged, when the 
destruction has been indiscriminate and on an enormous 
scale, it is extraordinarily difficult for the victor to behave 
magnanimously, or even with justice. Passions ran so high 
in die last war that it was psychologically impossible for 
the conquerors to make a just and humane settlement. 
In spite of Wilson and his Fourteen Points, they imposed 
the Treaty of Versailles the treaty which made it in- 
evitable that a Hitler should arise and that Germany should 
seek revenge for past humiliations. A war waged by 
League members allied to impose military sanctions on an 
aggressor will probably be at least as destructive as the 
war of 1914-18 possibly far more destructive. Is there 
any reason to suppose that the victorious League that is, 
if it is victorious will be in a more magnanimous mood 
than were the Allies in 1918? There is no such reason. 
The sanctionists are cherishing the old illusion of 'the war 
to end war.' But wars do not end war; in most cases they 
result in an unjust peace that makes inevitable the outbreak 
of a war of revenge. 

In this context it is worth mentioning the project for an 
* international police force* sponsored by the New Common- 
wealth and approved, so far as the international air-police 
force is concerned, by the British Labour Party. First, 
we must point out that the phrase "international police 
force 9 is completely misleading. Police action against an 



individual criminal is radically different from action by a 
nation or group of nations against a national criminal. 
The police act with the maximum of precision; they go 
out and arrest the guilty person. Nations and groups of 
nations act through their armed forces, which can only act 
with the maximum of imprecision, killing, maiming, starving 
and ruining millions of human beings, the overwhelming 
majority of whom have committed no crime of any sort. 
The process, which all self-righteous militarists, from plain 
jingo to sanctionist and international policemen, describe 
as 'punishing a guilty nation/ consists in mangling and 
murdering innumerable innocent individuals. To draw 
analogies between an army and a police force, between war 
(however 'righteous* its aim) and the prevention of crime, 
is utterly misleading. An 'international police force* is 
not a police force and those who call it by that name are 
trying, consciously or unconsciously, to deceive the public. 
What they assimilate to the, on the 'whole, beneficent 
policeman is in fact an army and air force, equipped to 
slaughter and destroy. We shall never learn to think 
correctly unless we call things by their proper names. 
The international police force, if it were ever constituted, 
would not be a police force; it would be a force for 
perpetrating indiscriminate massacres. If you approve of 
indiscriminate massacres, then you must say so. You have 
no right to deceive the unwary by calling your massacre- 
force by the same name as the force which controls traffic 
and arrests burglars. 

This International Massacre-Force does not yet exist and, 
quite apart from any question of desirability, it seems almost 
infinitely improbable that it ever will exist. How is such 
a force to be recruited? how officered? how armed? 
where located? Who is to decide when it is to be used 
and against whom? To whom will it owe allegiance and 
how is its loyalty to be guaranteed? Is it likely that the 

H 113 


staff officers of the various nations will draw up plans for 
the* invasion and conquest of their own country? or that 
aviators will loyally co-operate in the slaughter of their 
own people? How can all nations be persuaded to con- 
tribute men and materials towards the international force? 
Should the contributions be equal? If they are not equal 
and a few great powers supply the major part of the force, 
what is to prevent these powers from establishing a military 
tyranny over the whole world? The project sponsored by 
the New Commonwealth and the Labour Party combines 
all the moral and political vices of militarism with all the 
hopeless impracticability of a Utopian dream. In the 
language of the stud book, the International Police Force 
may be described as by Machiavelli out of News from 

Morality and practical common sense are at one in 
demanding that efforts to create an "International Police 
Force* shall be strenuously resisted and that Article XVI 
shall be removed from the Covenant. The effort to stop 
war, once it has broken out, by means of military sanctions 
or the action of an international army and air force is 
foredoomed to failure. War cannot be stopped by more 
war. All that more war can do is to widen the area of 
destruction and place new obstacles in the way of reaching 
a just and humane settlement of international disputes. 
It should be the business of the League to concentrate all 
its energies on the work of preventing wars from breaking 
out. This it can do by developing existing machinery for 
the peaceable settlement of international disputes; by 
extending the field of international co-operation in the 
study and solution of outstanding social problems; and 
finally, by devising means for eliminating the causes 
of war. 

About the machinery of peaceful settlement and inter- 
national co-operation it is unnecessary to say very much. 



A machine may be exquisitely ingenious and of admirable 
workmanship, but if people refuse to use it, or use it badly, 
it will be almost or completely useless. This is the case 
with the machinery of peaceful change and international 
co-operation. It has been in existence for a long time, and 
if the governments of the various nations had always wished 
to make use of it, it would have served its purpose the 
preservation of peace with admirable efficiency. But 
governments have not always wished to make use of it. 
Wherever 'national honour* and 'vital interests' were 
concerned, they have preferred to threaten or actually 
make use of violence. Even in cases where they have 
consented to employ the machinery of peaceful settle- 
ment, they have sometimes displayed such bad will that 
the machine has been unable to function. A good example 
of the way in which bad will can prevent even the best 
arbitral machinery from producing the results it is meant 
to produce is supplied by the history of the dispute between 
Chile and Peru over the provinces of Tacna and Arica. 
The dispute began in 1883, when the Treaty of Ancon 
provided that the two provinces should remain in the 
possession of Chile for a period of ten years, after which 
a plebiscite should be held, to decide whether the territory 
should remain Chilean or revert to Peruvian sovereignty. 
The treaty was ambiguous inasmuch as it did not specify 
whether the plebiscite should be held immediately after the 
expiry of the ten-year period, nor by which power and 
under whose laws it should be organized. The Chileans 
made use of this ambiguity to delay the holding of the 
plebiscite until such time as, by intimidating and expelling 
the Peruvian inhabitants and importing Chileans, they 
should be sure of securing a majority. Direct negotiations 
were tried and failed. An appeal to the League of Nations 
in 1920 proved abortive. Finally, arbitration by the 
President of the United States was accepted in 1925 and it 



was agreed that a plebiscite should be held under the auspices 
of a commission, presided over by General Pershing. 
But the Chileans still had no intention of allowing the 
machine to work. Pershing retired in 1926 and his suc- 
cessor, General Lassiter, had to declare that the commission 
must be dissolved without fulfilling its mission. Finally, 
in 1928, under friendly pressure from the United States, 
the two countries resumed diplomatic relations (they had 
been interrupted for nearly twenty years) and, in 1929, 
agreed to accept the arbitration of President Hoover, who 
finally settled the matter by assigning Tacna to Peru and 
Arica to Chile. This international quarrel lasted for forty- 
six years. From the first both sides had agreed to make 
use of the machinery of peaceful change (a plebiscite and 
the payment of a monetary compensation). But from the 
first one of the parties refused to allow the machine to 
work as it should. In the end sheer boredom took the 
place of good will. The Chileans couldn't be bothered 
to persist any longer in their intransigence. The machine 
was permitted to function and within a few months turned 
out the peaceful solution which it had been expressly 
contrived to produce. 

The case of the Anglo-American dispute over the 
boundary between Maine and New Brunswick is very 
similar to that of the more recent dispute between Chile 
and Peru. After years of bickering, the arbitration of the 
King of the Netherlands was accepted in 1827; but when, 
in 1831, he made his award, the United States rejected it. 
The dispute dragged on, becoming progressively more 
acrimonious, for another eleven years. Then, growing 
weary of the whole matter, both sides decided that it 
was time to make a settlement. Lord Ashburton was sent 
to Washington to negotiate with the Secretary of State, 
Daniel Webster, and in a very short time the Maine 
boundary and a number of other outstanding differences 



between the two countries were amicably settled. Here 
again the machinery of peaceful change produced the 
results it was designed to produce only when the parties 
concerned were willing to use it as it was meant to be 
used. Another significant point is that the negotiations 
between the two countries were greatly facilitated by the 
fact that the two negotiators, Webster and Ashburton, 
were personal friends and enjoyed, in their respective 
countries, a high reputation for integrity and good sense. 
Consequently the process of negotiation was easy and its 
results, though attacked by extremists on both sides of 
the Atlantic, were acceptable to the majority of ordinary, 
moderate men, who trusted in the judgment and honesty 
of the negotiators. For the arbitrator even more, perhaps, 
than for the negotiator, character is the supreme asset. 
Any suspicion that the judge in an international dispute is 
partial, corrupt or merely injudicious, is enough to imperil 
the success of the arbitration. Here again we see that the 
machine itself is of secondary importance; what matters 
is the will, the intelligence, and the moral character of the 
men who use the machine. That machinery should exist 
and that it should be the best that legal and administrative 
ingenuity can devise is essential. The mere fact that the 
machinery is there is a hint to the disputants that they 
ought to use it, rather than resort to armed violence. 
Opportunity helps to make the good man as well as the 
thief. It is important, as we have seen, to deliver men 
from evil by reducing the number of opportunities for 
behaving badly. It is equally important to create new 
opportunities for behaving well, to provide desirable alter- 
natives to the evil courses prescribed by tradition. Such 
institutions as the Hague Court and, in its arbitral and 
co-operative capacity, the League of Nations, are merely 
pieces of judicial and administrative machinery and can 
do nothing of themselves to preserve peace or cure the 



world of its militaristic insanity. Their existence, however, 
is an invitation and an opportunity to use peaceful instead 
of violent methods; and the better the machinery, the more 
effectively will men be able to exploit the opportunity, 
once it has been seized. 

All the existing methods of preventing war are 
characterized by one or other of two principal defects. 
Either they are, like military sanctions, intrinsically bad 
and so incapable of producing any but bad results 
(the results of using unlimited violence and cunning 
are exactly the same, whether you call the process 
plain war or employ such charming euphemisms as 
* Sanctions,* "Collective Security," international Police 
Action ') or else they are merely pieces of more or less 
well-designed machinery, incapable by themselves of affect- 
ing the fundamental causes of war. This is true even of 
the special pieces of machinery set up from time to time 
since the War for the special purpose of eliminating some 
at least of the economic, political and military causes of war. 
The Naval Conference of 1927 and the general Disarma- 
ment Conference of 1932-34 were excellent pieces of 
machinery. But unfortunately none of the parties con- 
cerned showed the smallest desire to make use of them. 
During the 1927 conference the Bethlehem Shipbuilding 
Corporation, the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock 
Company, and the American Brown Boveri Corporation 
employed a Mr. Shearer to make anti-British propaganda 
both at Geneva and in the United States, with a view 
to preventing any agreement on a reduction in naval 
armaments from being reached. Mr. Shearer was extremely 
active, and, feeling that he had been inadequately re- 
munerated, sued the three companies in 1929 for a quarter 
of a million dollars, ' for services rendered/ The companies 
could probably have saved their money. Even without 
Mr. Shearer's intervention, it is pretty certain that the 



negotiations would have resulted in no serious diminution 
of the British and American navies. At the general Dis- 
armament Conference the determination not to use the 
machine was manifested even more clearly than in 1927. 
No government was willing so much as to consider 
unilateral disarmament, and even the Soviet suggestion of 
complete disarmament all round was ruled out of order 
before the Conference had begun. The discussions dragged 
on for two years discussions concerned not with dis- 
armament, but with the kind of weapons to be used in the 
next war. Finally the Conference was adjourned sine die 
and the various powers set to work to re-arm on a scale 
unprecedented in human history. 

The same obstinate refusal to make use of intrinsically 
excellent machinery has been displayed at the various 
conferences on economic and monetary problems. All the 
economists are agreed that international trade cannot 
become normal unless tariff barriers are lowered, the quota 
system abolished, and some satisfactory medium of inter- 
national exchange established. Nor is this all. Everyone 
knows that economic warfare, carried on by competitive 
currency devaluations, by tariffs, quotas and export bounties, 
is bound to lead sooner or later to military warfare. Never- 
theless, no government has shown itself ready to make use 
of any of the excellent machinery specially designed for 
the purpose of solving the world's economic problems. 

It is the same with the Mandate System. The Mandate 
System is a machine which makes it possible for backward 
peoples to be placed under the control of an international 
authority, not under the exclusive rule of a single nation. 
In regard to colonies, the world is at present divided into 
two camps of Haves and Have-nots. The Haves adopt 
the motto of the British Navy League : What I have I hold. 
The Have-nots demand a place in the sun, or in more vulgar 
language, a share in the loot. In recent years these demands 



have become particularly insistent and menacing. The 
Haves have consequently found it necessary to re-arm, 
among other reasons, in order to defend their colonies. 
In the days when sea-power was all important, the defence 
of a 'far-flung empire* was relatively easy. To-day it is, 
to say the least of it, exceedingly difficult. It has been 
repeatedly suggested that the imperial powers should re- 
nounce their claim to exclusive ownership of colonies and, 
using the machinery of the Mandate System, place their 
colonial territories under international control. By doing 
this they would allay the envy and resentment of the 
Have-not countries, appreciably lessen the probability of 
war, and solve the, at present, almost insoluble problem of 
imperial defence. This suggestion has not been acted upon 
by any colony-owning country. On the contrary, it has 
been indignantly rejected. All the governments concerned, 
from that of Great Britain to that of Portugal, have ex- 
pressed the determination to shed the last drop of their 
subjects' blood before yielding a foot of colonial territory. 
The British government has done more than refuse to 
transfer its colonies to the League of Nations: it has 
chosen the moment when it no longer possesses command 
of the seas and when, even if it did possess it, such command 
would be of little use, to reverse the free-trade policy by 
means of which its predecessors (though at the head of a 
country incomparably stronger and less vulnerable than 
contemporary Britain) thought fit to placate the envy of 
other powers. It has closed the doors of its colonies to 
the tcaide of other nations, thus forcibly reminding them of 
their own poverty and giving them new grievances against 
the British Empire/- It is one of the absurd paradoxes of 
the present situation that those Englishmen who are most 
anxious to establish. friendly relations with the dictatorships, 
especially Germany and Italy, are precisely those who are 
loudest in their denunciations of the only scheme by means 



of which these Have-not States might be placated. Being 
militarists, they want to make friends with other militarists; 
being jingoes, they cannot accept the conditions upon which 
such a friendship might be formed the conditions upon 
which, incidentally, it might be possible to get rid of 
militarism altogether. The machinery of the Mandate 
System is there, ready to be used; but nobody is willing 
to extend its present operations and, even in the existing 
mandated territories, the mandatory powers are tending to 
disregard their international obligations and to treat their 
mandates as plain unvarnished colonies. 

Machinery has been devised by the League for the 
purpose of securing the elementary rights of individuals 
belonging to minorities, racially or linguistically distinct 
from the majority of the inhabitants of their country. 
From the first the governments in control of countries 
containing such minorities have shown themselves reluctant 
to make use of this machinery, and recently the reluctance 
has been transformed, in a number of cases, into downright 
refusal. It is known by all concerned that maltreatment 
of minorities begets bad feeling, both at home and abroad. 
Nevertheless, the governments concerned refuse to use the 
machinery of conciliation and obstinately persist in oppress- 
ing those of their unhappy subjects who have noses of 
the wrong shape or speak the wrong language. 

The machinery for peaceful change is ready and waiting; 
but nobody uses it, because nobody wants to use it. 
Wherever we turn we find that the real obstaclgs^to peace 
are human will and feeling, human 
opinions. If we want to get rid ofj 
first of all its psychological caus 
been done will the rulers of 
get rid of the economic and polit 

By definition and in fact the 7 
have seen, a league of societies 


those who rule such essentially militaristic societies should 
take the initiative in eliminating the causes of war is, 
of course, enormously improbable. One cannot be the 
ruler of a militaristic society unless one is oneself a 
militarist, unless one accepts the beliefs and cherishes the 
sentiments which result in a militaristic policy. This being 
so, it is perfectly clear that most of the work of transforming 
the modern militaristic community into a community that 
desires peace and that proves the genuineness of its desire 
by pursuing only such policies as make for peace, will have 
to be done by private individuals, acting either alone or in 
association. Reforms are seldom initiated by the rulers of 
a nation. They have their source at the periphery and 
work gradually inwards towards the centre, till at last the 
strength of the reforming movement is so great that its 
leaders either become die government or the existing 
government adopts its principles and carries out its policies. 
With the work which will have to be done by private 
individuals and associations, I shall speak in the next 
chapter. In what remains of the present chapter I shall 
consider one by one the psychological causes of war, as 
outlined in earlier paragraphs, and point out how they 
might be eliminated. 

(i) War, as we have seen, is tolerated, and by some 
even welcomed, because peace-time occupations seem 
boring, humiliating and pointless. 

The application of the principle of self-government to 
industry and business should go far to deliver men and 
women in subordinate positions from the sense of helpless 
humiliation which is induced by the need of obeying the 
arbitrary orders of irresponsible superiors; and the fact of 
being one of a small co-operative group should do some- 
thing to make the working life of its members seem more 
interesting. Heightened interest can also be obtained by 
suitably rearranging the individual's tasks. Fourier insisted 



long ago on the desirableness of variety in labour, and in 
recent years his suggestion has been acted upon, experi- 
mentally, in a number of factories in Germany, America, 
Russia and elsewhere. The result has been a diminution 
of boredom and, in many cases, an increase in the volume 
of production. Tasks may be varied slightly, as when a 
worker in a cigarette factory is shifted from the job of 
feeding tobacco into a machine to the job of packing and 
weighing. Or they may be varied radically and funda- 
mentally, as when workers alternate between industrial and 
agricultural labour. In both cases the psychological effects 
seem to be good. 

(ii) It was suggested that the war-time decline in the 
suicide rate was due, among other things, to the heightened 
significance and purposefulness of life during a national 
emergency. At such a time the end for which all are 
striving is clearly seen; duties are simple and explicit; the 
vagueness and uncertainty of peace-time ideals gives place 
to the sharp definition of the war-time ideal, which is: 
victory at all costs; the bewildering complexities of the 
peace-time social patterns are replaced by the beautifully 
simple pattern of a community fighting for its existence. 
Danger heightens the sense of social solidarity and quickens 
patriotic enthusiasm. Life takes on sense and meaning and 
is lived at a high pitch of emotional intensity. 

The apparent pointlessness of modern life in time of peace 
and its lack of significance and purpose are due to the fact 
that, in the Western world at least, the prevailing cosmology 
is what Mr. Gerald Heard has called the 'mechanomorphic' 
cosmology of modern science. The universe is regarded 
as a great machine pointlessly grinding its way towards 
ultimate stagnation and death; men are tiny offshoots of 
the universal machine, running down to their own private 
death; physical life is the only real life; mind is a mere 
product of body; personal success and material well-being 



are the ultimate measures of value, the things for which 
a reasonable person should live. Introduced suddenly to 
this mechanomorphic cosmology, many of the Polynesian 
races have refused to go on multiplying their species and 
are in process of dying of a kind of psychological con- 
sumption. Europeans are of tougher fibre than the South 
Sea Islanders, and besides, they have had nearly three 
hundred years in which to become gradually acclimatized 
to the new cosmology. But even they have felt the effects 
of mechanomorphism. They move through life hollow 
with pointlessness, trying to fill the void within them by 
external stimuli newspaper reading, day-dreaming at the 
films, radio music and chatter, the playing and above all 
the watching of games, 'good times* of every sort. Mean- 
while any doctrine that offers to restore point and purpose 
to life is eagerly welcomed. Hence the enormous success 
of the nationalistic and communistic idolatries which deny 
any meaning to the universe as a whole, but insist on the 
importance and significance of certain arbitrarily selected 
parts of the whole the deified nation, the divine class. 

Nationalism first became a religion in Germany during 
the Napoleonic wars. Communism took its rise some fifty 
years later. Those who did not become devotees of the 
new idolatries either remained Christians, clinging to 
doctrines that became intellectually less and less accept- 
able with every advance of science, or else accepted 
mechanomorphism and became convinced of the poindess- 
ness of life. The World War was a product of nationalism 
and was tolerated and even welcomed by the great masses 
of those who found life pointless. War brought only a 
passing relief to the victims of mechanomorphic philosophy. 
Disillusion, fatigue and cynicism succeeded the initial 
enthusiasm, and when it was over, the sense of pointlessness 
became a yawning abyss that demanded to be filled with 
ever more and intenser distractions, ever better 'good 



times.' But good times are not a meaning or a purpose; 
the void could never be filled by them. Consequently 
when the nationalists and communists appeared with their 
simple idolatries and their proclamation that, though life 
might mean nothing as a whole it did at least possess a 
temporary and partial significance, there was a powerful re- 
action away from the cynicism of the post-war years. 
Millions of young people embraced the new idolatrous 
religions, found a meaning in life, a purpose for their 
existence, and were ready, in consequence, to make sacrifices, 
accept hardships, display courage, fortitude, temperance and 
indeed all the virtues except the essential and primary ones, 
without which all the rest may serve merely as the means 
for doing evil more effectively. Love and awareness 
these are the primary, essential virtues. But nationalism 
and communism are partial and exclusive idolatries that 
inculcate hatred, pride, hardness, and impose that intolerant 
dogmatism that cramps intelligence and narrows the field 
of interest and sympathetic awareness. 

The 'heads' of pointlessness has as its 'tails' idolatrous 
nationalism and communism. Our world oscillates from 
a neurasthenia that welcomes war as a relief from boredom 
to a mania that results in war being made. The cure for 
both these fearful maladies is the same the inculcation of 
a cosmology more nearly corresponding to reality than 
either mechanomorphism or the grotesque philosophies 
underlying the nationalistic and communistic idolatries. 
This cosmology and the ethical consequences of its accept- 
ance will be discussed in detail in a later chapter. My next 
task is to deal with the part that can and must be played 
by private individuals in the carrying through of desirable 

Chapter X 

TVTE have seen that the only effective methods for 
\V carrying out large-scale social reforms are non-violent 
methods. Violence produces only the results of violence 
and the attempt to impose reforms by violent methods is 
therefore foredoomed to failure. The only cases in which 
violent methods succeed are those where initial violence is 
rapidly followed by compensatory acts of justice, humane- 
ness, sympathetic understanding and the like. This being 
so, mere common sense demands that we shall begin with 
non-violence and not run the risk of stultifying the whole 
process of reform by using violence, even as an initial 

Non-violent methods of reform are likely to succeed 
only where a majority of the population is either actively 
in favour of the reform in question, or at least not 
prepared actively to oppose it. Where the majority is 
not either favourable or passively neutral to the reform, 
violent attempts to impose it are certain to lead to 

In communities ruled by hereditary monarchs it has 
sometimes happened that an exceptionally enlightened 
king has tried to make reforms which, though intrinsically 
desirable, did not happen to be desired by the mass of his 
people. Akhnaton's is a case in point. Such efforts 
at reform made by rulers too far advanced to be under- 
stood by their subjects are likely to meet with partial or 
complete failure. 


In countries where rulers are chosen by popular vote 
there is no likelihood that startlingly novel and unacceptable 
reforms will be initiated by the central authority. In such 
countries the movement for reform must always start at 
the periphery and move towards the centre. Private 
individuals, either alone or in groups, must formulate the 
idea of reform and must popularize it among the masses. 
When it has become sufficiently popular, it can be in- 
corporated into the legislation of the community. 

In the modern world, as we have seen, the great obstacle 
to all desirable change is war. The cardinal, the indis- 
pensable reform is therefore a reform in the present policy 
of national communities in regard to one another. To-day 
all nations conduct their foreign policy on militaristic 
principles. Some are more explicitly, more noisily and 
vulgarly militaristic than others; but all, even those that 
call themselves democratic and pacific, consistently act 
upon the principles of militarism. It is hardly conceivable 
that any desirable reform in this direction should be 
initiated by those who now hold political power. The 
movement of reform must therefore come from private 
individuals. It is the business of these private individuals 
to persuade the majority of their fellows that the policy of 
pacifism is preferable to that of militarism. When and 
only when they have succeeded, it will become possible 
to change those militaristic national policies which make 
the outbreak of another war all but inevitable and which, 
by doing this, hold up the whole process of desirable 

It may be objected that the majority of men and women 
all over the world ardently desire peace and that therefore 
there is no need for private individuals to make propaganda 
in favour of peace. In reply to this I may quote a pro- 
foundly significant phrase from The Imitation, "All men 
desire peace, but very few desire those things which make 



for peace/ The truth is, of course, that one can never 
haye something for nothing. The voters in every country 
desire peace. But hardly any of them are prepared to pay 
the price of peace. In the modern world the * things that 
make for peace' are disarmament, unilateral if necessary; 
renunciation of exclusive empires; abandonment of the 
policy of economic nationalism; determination in all 
circumstances to use the methods of non-violence; system- 
atic training in such methods. How many of the so-called 
peace-lovers of the world love these indispensable con- 
ditions of peace? Few indeed. The business of private 
individuals is to persuade their fellows that the things that 
make for peace are not merely useful as means to certain 
political ends, but are also valuable as methods for training 
individuals in the supreme art of non-attachment. 

Individuals can work either alone or in association with 
other like-minded individuals. The work of the solitary 
individual is mainly preliminary to the work of the indi- 
viduals in association. The solitary individual can under- 
take one or both of two important tasks: the task of 
intellectual clarification; the task of dissemination. He 
can be a theorist, a sifter of ideas, a builder of systems; 
or he can be a propagandist either of his own or others' 
ideas. To put it crudely, he can be either a writer or a 
public speaker. Both these tasks are useful and even 
indispensable, but both, I repeat, are preliminary to the 
greater and more difficult task which must be accomplished 
by individuals in association. Their task is to act upon 
the ideas of the solitary writer or speaker, to make practical 
applications of what were merely theories, to construct 
here and now small working-models of the better society 
imagined by the prophets; to educate themselves here and 
now into specimens of those ideal individuals described by 
the founders of religions. Success in such a venture is 
doubly valuable. If the success is on a large scale, the 


existing social and economic order will have undergone 
a perceptible modification for the better. At the same 
time the demonstration that the new theories may be made 
to produce desirable results in practice will act as the best 
possible form of propaganda on their behalf. Most people 
find example more convincing than argument. The fact 
that a theory has actually worked is a better recommenda- 
tion for its soundness than any amount of ingenious 

At almost every period and in almost every country 
private individuals have associated for the purpose of 
initiating desirable change and of working out for them- 
selves a way of life superior to that of their contemporaries. 
In the preservation and development of civilization these 
groups of devoted individuals have played a very important 
part and are destined, I believe, to play a part no less 
important in the future. Let us briefly consider the lessons 
to be drawn from their history. 

The first condition of success is that all the members of 
such associations should accept the same philosophy of 
life and should be whole-heartedly determined to take 
their full share in the work for whose accomplishment the 
association was founded. This condition was fulfilled, on 
many occasions and for considerable stretches of time, in 
the history of Christian and Buddhist monasticism. It was 
not fulfilled in the case of many of the political and religious 
communities founded in America during the nineteenth 
century. The experiment of New Harmony, for example, 
was foredoomed to failure, because the founder of the 
community, Robert Owen, made no attempt to exclude 
unsuitable collaborators. New Harmony was colonized 
by people of the most diverse opinions, a large proportion 
of whom were either failures, cranks or swindlers. Its 
life was consequently short and squalid; its conclusion 
ignominious. John Humphrey Noyes, on the other hand, 
i 129 


was always careful to admit into his fold only those who 
had successfully undergone a long period of probation. 
That was one of the reasons why the Oneida Community 
prospered, materially and spiritually. 

The next essential is that such associations should be 
founded for the pursuit of noble ends and in the name of 
a high ideal. The fact that a community demands con- 
siderable sacrifices from its members, imposes a strict 
discipline and exacts unremitting effort is not a disadvantage. 
On the contrary, if the goal is felt to be worth achieving, 
men and women are glad to make sacrifices. The Trappist 
rule attracted the greatest number of postulants at the time 
when, under the abbacy of Dom Augustine de Lestrange, 
its observances had been made unprecedentedly strict. 
For those who accepted the Christian cosmology, the 
practice of such austerities as were imposed by the Trappist 
Rule was logical enough. For those with a different 
conception of ultimate reality, it would make no sense 
whatever. La Trappe is not cited here as an example to 
be imitated, but merely to show that even unnecessary and 
supererogatory hardships may be cheerfully accepted for 
God's sake. And not for God's sake only. In the con- 
temporary world every political cause, from Communism 
to Nazism, has attracted its army of devotees men and 
women who were ready to accept poverty and discomfort, 
incessant labour and the risk of imprisonment and some- 
times even death. By those who are convinced that their 
cause is good, suffering is not feared and avoided; it is 
even welcomed. 

All over the world and at all times associations of 
devoted individuals have exhibited one common charac- 
teristic: property has been held in common and all 
members have been vowed to personal poverty. In some 
communities, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian, it has been 
the custom for members to beg their bread. Others have 


preferred to work for their living. Associations of devoted 
individuals command attention and admiration; and where 
the devoted individuals are attached to the cause of the 
locally accepted religion, admiration is tinged with super- 
stitious awe. People give expression to their feelings of 
admiration and awe by making gifts of property and 
money. Most religious communities have begun poor and 
have ended with large endowments. Great wealth is 
incompatible with non-attachment and this is true, not 
only of individuals, but also (though the process of cor- 
ruption is less rapid) of communities. Nothing fails like 
success. Successful religious orders have always tended 
to sink into complacency, bogged in the morass of their 
endowments. Luckily, however, there have always been 
adventurous spirits ready and able to start afresh with 
great enthusiasm and little money. In due course, they 
too achieve success, and the movement for reform has to 
start all over again. 

All effective communities are founded upon the principle 
of unlimited liability. In small groups composed of 
members personally acquainted with one another, un- 
limited liability provides a liberal education in responsibility, 
loyalty and consideration. It was upon the principle of 
unlimited liability that RaifFeisen based his system of 
co-operative agricultural banking, a system which worked 
successfully even among a population so illiterate, so 
desperately poverty-stricken as that of the barren Wester* 
wald district of Prussia in the later forties of last century. 

Summed up in a couple of sentences, the economic 
conditions of effective community living would seem to 
be as follows. Groups must accept the principle of un- 
limited liability. Individual members should possess 
nothing and everything nothing as individuals, every- 
thing as joint owners of communally held property and 
communally produced income. Property and income 



should not be so large as to become ends in themselves, 
nor so small that the entire energies of the community 
have to be directed to procuring to-morrow's dinner. 

We come next to the problem of discipline. History 
shows that it is possible for associations of devoted indi- 
viduals to survive under disciplinary systems as radically 
different from one another as those, respectively, of the 
Society of Jesus and of the Society of Friends. Loyola 
was a soldier, and the order he founded was organized on 
military principles. His famous letter on obedience is 
written in the spirit of what may be called the Higher 
Militarism. The General of the order is clothed not 
merely with the powers of a commander-in-chief in time 
of war; he is also to be regarded by his inferiors as one 
who stands in the place of God, and must be obeyed as 
such without reference to his personal qualities as a human 
being. 'Theirs not to reason why; theirs but to do and 
die/ This doctrine so dear to the ordinary mundane 
militarist, is reaffirmed by Loyola in the theological 
language of the Higher Militarism. 'The sacrifice of the 
Intellect' is the third and highest grade of obedience, 
particularly pleasing to God. The inferior must not only 
submit his will to that of the superior; he must also submit 
his intellect and judgment, must think the superior's 
thoughts and not his own. 

Between the Higher Militarism of Loyola and the 
complete democracy of a Quaker committee, in which 
resolutions are not even put to the vote but discussed 
until at last there emerges a general 'sense of the meeting,' 
lies the constitutional monarchy of Benedictine monasticism. 
Gregory the Great characterized the Benedictine rule as 
'conspicuous for its discretion.' He was right. Discretion 
is the outstanding characteristic of almost every one of 
St. Benedict's seventy chapters. The monk's time is 
discreetly divided between practical work and devotion, 


he is discreetly clothed and discreetly fed not 
too well, but also not too ill. Life in the monastery 
is ascetic, but discreetly so. Discretion is no less con- 
spicuous in the chapters dealing with the functions of the 
abbot. The abbot is king of the monastery and in the 
last resort his authority is absolute. But before giving 
an order it is his duty, if the question at issue is an im- 
portant one, to consult the whole community and hear 
what even its humblest member has to say. In matters 
of less moment, he is to confer with a cabinet of the older 
monks. Furthermore, his authority is not personal. He 
reigns; but his reign is a reign of law. His monks are 
subject to the Rule and to him only in so far as he represents 
and applies the Rule. 

Communities governed on Jesuit principles, com- 
munities governed on Benedictine principles, communities 
governed on Quaker principles all three types, as history 
has demonstrated, are capable of surviving. Our choice 
between the various types will be determined partly by 
the nature of the tasks to be performed, but mainly by the 
nature of our conception of what human individuals and 
societies ought to be. Certain tasks demand a technical 
and therefore highly centralized direction. But even in 
these cases technical centralization is generally compatible, 
as we have seen, with self-government in execution. 
Loyola's choice of the Higher Militarism was dictated 
partly by his own experience as a soldier and partly by 
the fact that, during his day, the Church was at war, both 
spiritually and physically, with Protestantism. To fight 
this war, an army was needed. Loyola set out to recruit 
and train that army. In modern times the conception of 
sect-war has given place to that of class- war. Hence the 
essentially military organization of the Fascist and Com- 
munist parties, bodies in certain respects curiously similar 
to the Ignatian order. Neither Fascists nor Communists 



accept as valid the old ideal of the non-attached individual 
In the light of their philosophies of life, they are doubtless 
quite right in organizing themselves as they do. But 
Loyola accepted the ideal of non-attachment. In the light 
of his philosophy, he was unquestionably wrong in his 
adoption of the Higher Militarism. Non-attachment is 
valueless unless it is the non-attachment of a fully respon- 
sible individual A corpse is not malignant or ambitious 
or lustful; but it is not for that reason a practise! of non- 
attachment The Jesuit postulant is bidden in so many 
words to model his behaviour on that of a corpse. He is 
to allow himself to be moved and' directed by his superior 
as though he were a cadaver or a walking-stick. Such 
passive obedience is incompatible with genuine non- 
attachment. If we believe in the value of non-attachment, 
we must avoid the Higher Militarism and devise some 
system of organization that shall be, not only efficient, but 
in the widest sense of the word educative. The con- 
stitutional monarchy of Benedictinism is more educative 
than Loyola's totalitarianism. Where the members of the 
community have already achieved a certain measure of 
responsibility, Quaker democracy is probably better than 

At all times and in all places communities have been 
formed for the purpose of making it possible for their 
members to live more nearly in accord with the currently 
accepted religious ideals than could be done 'in the world/ 
Such communities have always devoted a considerable 
proportion of their time and energy to study, to the 
performance of ceremonial acts of devotion and, in some 
cases at any rate, to the practice of 'spiritual exercises/ 
The nature and purpose of 'spiritual exercises* will be 
discussed at length in the chapter on ' Religious Practices/ 
All that need be said here is that the best spiritual exercises 
provide a method by which the will may be strengthened 


And directed, and the consciousness heightened and en* 
larged. The Benedictine Rule prescribed no systematic 
course of spiritual exercises. Loyola's exercises were 
extremely effective in strengthening and directing the will, 
but tended to prevent the consciousness from rising to the 
highest level of mystical contemplation. The Quakers 
had stumbled upon a method which, when properly used, 
not only strengthened the will, but also heightened con- 
sciousness. Unfortunately, it often happened that the 
method was not used properly. Individual Christian 
mystics, like St. John of the Cross and the author of 
The Cloud of Unknowing, have fully understood the psycho- 
logical nature and the spiritual and educational value of 
the right kind of spiritual exercises. A similar under- 
standing is to be found in the East, where Hindu and 
Buddhist communities make systematic use of spiritual 
exercises as a means to spiritual insight into ultimate 
reality and for the purpose of purifying, directing and 
strengthening the will. 

Many communities have been content to seek salvation 
only for their own members and have considered that they 
did enough for the 'world* by praying for it and providing 
it with the example of piety and purposeful living. Most 
Hindu and many Buddhist communities belong to this 
type. In some countries, however, Buddhist monks con- 
ceive it their duty to teach, and schools, both for children 
and adults, are attached to the monasteries. In the West 
the majority of Christian communities have always regarded 
the performance of some kind of practical work as an 
indispensable part of their functions. Under the Benedictine 
Rule, monks were expected to spend about three hours at 
their devotions and about seven at work. Cluny gave 
more time to devotion and less to work. But the Cistercian 
reform was a return to the letter of the Benedictine Rule. 
Much has been written on the civilizing influence of the 



monasteries in their practical, non-religious capacity. The 
early Benedictines revived agricultural life after the collapse 
of the Roman Empire re-colonized the land that had been 
deserted, re-introduced industrial techniques in places where 
they had been almost lost. Seven hundred years later, the 
Cistercians were responsible for another great agricultural 
revival. Under their influence, swamps were drained and 
brought under the plough; the breeds of horses and cattle 
were greatly improved. In England they devoted them- 
selves especially to sheep and were responsible for that 
great trade in wool which was one of the main sources of 
English prosperity during the Middle Ages. For many 
centuries education and the dissemination of knowledge 
through written books was mainly in the hands of the 
Benedictines. Poor relief and medical aid were also sup- 
plied by the monasteries, and in most countries, almost up 
to the present day, there were no nurses except those who 
had been trained in a community of nuns. During the 
last two centuries most of the non-religious work per- 
formed by the religious communities has come to be done 
either by the state or by secular organizations in the way 
of ordinary business. Up till that time, however, neither 
the central authority nor the private business man was 
willing or able to undertake these jobs. We may risk a 
generalization and say that at any given moment of history 
it is the function of associations of devoted individuals 
to undertake tasks which clear-sighted people perceive 
to be necessary, but which nobody else is willing to 

In the light of this brief account of the salient charac- 
teristics of past communities we can see what future 
communities ought to be and do. We see that they 
should be composed of carefully selected individuals, 
united in a common belief and by fidelity to a shared 
ideal. We see that property and income should be held 

in common and that every member should assume un- 
limited liability for all other members. We see that 
disciplinary arrangements may be of various kinds, but 
that the most educative form of organization is the demo- 
cratic. We see that it is advisable for communities to 
undertake practical work in addition to study, devotion 
and spiritual exercises, and that this practical work should 
be of a kind which other social agencies, public or private, 
are either unable or unwilling to perform. 

Religious and philosophical beliefs and the methods by 
which the will can be trained and the mind enlightened 
will be dealt with in later chapters. Here I am concerned 
with the question of practical, mundane work. 

All of us desire a better state of society. But society 
cannot become better before two great tasks are performed. 
Unless peace can be firmly established and the prevailing 
obsession with money and power profoundly modified, 
there is no hope of any desirable change being made. 
Governments are not willing to undertake these tasks; 
indeed, in many countries they actively persecute those 
who even express the opinion that such tasks are worth 
performing. Private individuals are not prepared to under- 
take them in the ordinary way of business. If the work 
is to be done at all and it is clear that, unless it is done, 
the state of the world is likely to become progressively 
worse it must be done by associations of devoted indi- 
viduals. To tend the sick, to relieve the poor, to teach 
without charge these are all intrinsically excellent tasks. 
But for associations of devoted individuals to perform such 
tasks is now a work of supererogation and, in a certain 
sense, an anachronism. It was right that they should 
undertake them when nobody else was prepared to do so. 
If they undertake them now, when such tasks are being 
performed, very efficiently, by other agencies, they are 
wasting the energy of their devotion. They should use 



this energy to do what nobody else will do, to break the 
new ground that nobody else will break. 

The function of the well-intentioned individual, acting 
in isolation, is to formulate or disseminate theoretical 
truths. The function of well-intentioned individuals in 
association is to live in accordance with those truths, to 
demonstrate what happens when theory is translated into 
practice, to create small-scale working models of the better 
form of society to which the speculative idealist looks 
forward. Let us consider the sort of things that would 
have to be done by associations of individuals devoted to 
the tasks of establishing peace and a new form of economic 
and social organization, in which the present obsession 
with money and power should not be given the opportunity 
of coming into existence. The two tasks are, of course, 
closely related. Both capitalism and nationalism are fruits 
of the obsession with power, success, position. Economic 
competition and social domination are fundamentally mili- 
taristic. Within a society the various classes have their 
private imperialisms, just as the society as a whole has 
its own, essentially similar, public imperialism. And so 
on. Any association which tried to create a working 
model of a society unobsessed by the lust for power and 
success would at the same time be creating a working 
model of a society living in peace and having no reasons 
for going to war. For the sake of convenience, I shall 
deal separately with the pacifistic and economic activities 
of our hypothetical association. In reality, however, the 
two classes of activity are closely related and comple- 

'All men desire peace, but very few desire those things 
that make for peace.' The thing that makes for peace 
above all others is the systematic practice in all human 
relationships of non-violence. For full and recent dis- 
cussions of the subject the reader is referred to Richard 


Gregg's book, The Power of Non-Violence, and to works 
by Barth&emy de Ligt, notably Pour Vaxncre sans Violence 
and La Paix Criatrice. In the paragraphs that follow I 
have tried to give a brief, but tolerably complete summary 
of the argument in favour of non-violence. 

The inefficiency of violence has been discussed in an 
earlier chapter; but the subject is such an important one 
that I make no apology for repeating the substance of what 
was said in that place. 

If violence is answered by violence, the result is a 
physical struggle. Now, a physical struggle inevitably 
arouses in the minds of those directly and even indirectly 
concerned in it emotions of hatred, fear, rage and resent- 
ment. In the heat of conflict all scruples are thrown to 
the winds, all the habits of forbearance and humaneness, 
slowly and laboriously formed during generations of 
civilized living, are forgotten. Nothing matters any more 
except victory. And when at last victory comes to one 
or other of the parties, this final outcome of physical 
struggle bears no necessary relation to the rights and 
wrongs of the case; nor, in most cases, does it provide 
any lasting settlement to the dispute. 

The cases in which victory in war provides a more or 
less lasting settlement may be classified as follows: (i) 
Victory results in a final settlement when the vanquished 
are completely or very nearly exterminated. This happened 
to the Red Men in North America and to the Protestant 
heretics in sixteenth-century Spain. That 'the blood of 
the martyrs is the seed of the church* is true only when 
a good many people survive martyrdom. If the number 
of martyrs is equal to the total number of the faithful (as 
it was in the case of the Japanese Christians during die 
seventeenth century), then no church will spring from 
their blood and the dispute between orthodox and heretic 
will have been settled once and for all. Modern wars are 



generally waged between densely populated countries. In 
Stich cases extermination is unlikely. One war tends 
therefore to beget another. (2) Where the fighting forces 
are so small that the mass of the rival populations is left 
physically unharmed and psychologically unembittered by 
the conflict, the victory of one or other army may result 
in a permanent settlement. To-day entire populations are 
liable to be involved in their country's battles. The 
relatively harmless wars waged according to an elaborate 
code of rules by small professional armies are things of 
the past. (3) Victory may lead to a permanent peace, 
where the victors settle down among the vanquished as a 
ruling minority and are, in due course, absorbed by them. 
This does not apply to contemporary wars. 

(4) Finally, victory may be followed by an act of 
reparation on the part of the victors. Reparation will 
disarm the resentment of the vanquished and lead to a 
permanent settlement. This was the policy pursued by 
the English after the Boer War. Such a policy is essentially 
an application of the principles of non-violence. The 
longer and more savage the conflict, the more difficult is it 
to make an act of reparation after victory. It was relatively 
easy for Campbell-Bannerman to be just after the Boer 
War; for the makers of the Versailles Treaty, magnanimity 
was psychologically all but impossible. In view of this 
obvious fact, common sense demands that the principles 
of non-violence should be applied, not after a war, when 
their application is supremely difficult, but before physical 
conflict has broken out and as a substitute for such a 
conflict. Non-violence is the practical consequence that 
follows from belief in the fundamental unity of all being. 
But, quite apart from the validity of its philosophical 
basis (which I shall discuss in a later chapter), non-violence 
can prove its value pragmatically by working. That it 
can work in private life we have all had occasion to observe 


and experience. We have all seen how anger feeds upon 
answering anger, but is disarmed by gentleness and patience. 
We have all known what it is to have our meannesses 
shamed by somebody else's magnanimity into an equal 
magnanimity; what it is to have our dislikes melted away 
by an act of considerateness; what it is to have our cold- 
nesses and harshnesses transformed into solicitude by the 
example of another's unselfishness. The use of violence is 
accompanied by anger, hatred and fear, or by exultant 
malice and conscious cruelty. Those who would use non- 
violence must practise self-control, must learn moral as 
well as physical courage, must pit against anger and malice 
a steady good will and a patient determination to under- 
stand and to sympathize. Violence makes men worse; 
non-violence makes them better. In the casual relations of 
social life the principles of non-violence are systematized, 
crudely, no doubt, and imperfectly, by the code of good 
manners. The precepts of religion and morality represent 
the systematization of the same principles in regard to 
personal relations more complex and more passionate than 
those of the drawing-room and the street. 

Men of exceptional moral force and even ordinary 
people, when strengthened by intense conviction, have 
demonstrated over and over again in the course of history 
the power of non-violence to overcome evil, to turn 
aside anger and hatred. The hagiographies of every 
religion are full of accounts of such exploits, and similar 
stories can be found in the records of modern missionaries 
and colonial administrators, of passive resisters and con- 
scientious objectors. Such sporadic manifestations of non- 
violence might be put down as exceptional and of no 
historical importance. To those who raise such an objection 
we would point out that, in the course of the last century 
and a half, the principles of non-violence have been applied, 
ever more systematically and with a growing realization 



of their practical value, to the solution of social and medical 
pf oblems regarded before that time as completely insoluble. 
It was only in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that 
it began to be realized that such problems the problem 
of the insane, the problem of the criminal, the problem of 
the * savage* were insoluble only because violence had 
made them so. Thus, the cruel treatment of the insane 
resulted in their disease being aggravated and becoming 
incurable. It was not until 1792 that Pinel struck the 
chains from the unhappy inmates of the Salpetrtere. In 
1815 a committee of the House of Commons investigated 
the state of Bethlehem Hospital and found it appalling. 
Bedlam was a place of filth and squalor, with dungeons, 
chains and torture chambers. As late as 1840 the great 
majority of asylums in Western Europe were still prisons 
and their inmates were still being treated as though they 
were criminals. Towards the middle of the century a 
considerable effort at reform was made and, since then, 
doctors have come to rely in their treatment more and 
more upon kindness and intelligent sympathy, less and less 
upon harshness and constraint. For a full and very vivid 
account of life in a well-run modern hospital for the 
insane, W. B. Seabrook's Asylum may be recommended. 
Compare this testimony with the description of life in the 
Salpetrtere before Pinel's day or in unreformed Bedlam. 
The difference is the difference between organized violence 
and organized non-violence. 

The story of prison reform is essentially similar to that 
of the reform of asylums. When John Howard began his 
investigations in the middle of the seventies of the 
eighteenth century the only decent prisons in Europe were 
those of Amsterdam. (Significantly enough, there was 
much less crime in Holland than in other countries.) 
Prisons were houses of torture in which the innocent 
were demoralized and the criminal became more criminal 


In spite of Howard, no serious attempts were made even 
in England to reform the monstrous system until well 
into the nineteenth century. Thanks to the labours of 
Elizabeth Fry and the Prison Discipline Society (yet 
another example of the good work that can be done by 
associations of devoted individuals), the English Parliament 
was at last induced to pass two Acts in 1823 and 1824, 
Acts which enunciated the principle of a new and better 
system. It is unnecessary to describe the further course 
of reform. Suffice it to say that in all democratic countries, 
at least, the movement has been in the direction of greater 
humaneness. There has been general agreement among 
all those best qualified to speak that if criminals are to be 
reformed or even prevented from becoming worse, organ- 
ized violence must give place to organized and intelligent 
non-violence. This humanitarian movement has always 
been opposed by those who say that "criminals should not 
be pampered. 9 The motives of such opposition always 
turn out upon investigation to be thoroughly discreditable. 
People need scapegoats on whom to load their own offences 
and in comparison to whom they may seem to themselves 
entirely virtuous ; furthermore, they derive a certain pleasure 
from the thought of the suffering of others. Still, in spite 
of much concealed sadism and much openly displayed self- 
righteousness, the humanitarian movement has gone steadily 
forward. Only in the dictatorial countries has it received a 
check. Here, the idea of reformation has been abandoned and 
the old notion of retaliatory punishment has been revived. 
This is a significant symptom of that regression from charity 
which is characteristic of so much contemporary activity. 

Like the alienist and the gaoler, die colonial ad- 
ministrator and the anthropologist have discovered that 
organized and intelligent non-violence is the best, the 
most practical policy. For some time the Dutch and 
the English, like the Romans before them, have known 


that it was wise, wherever possible, to * leave the natives 
;alone.' During the last thirty years professional anthro- 
pologists have left the libraries in which their older 
colleagues fitted together their mosaics of travellers 9 tales 
and missionary gossip, and have actually taken to living 
with the objects of their study. In order to be able to do 
this with safety, they have found it essential to apply the 
principles of non-violence with a truly Tolstoyan thorough- 
ness. In consequence, they have won the friendship of 
their 'savages' and have learned incomparably more about 
their ways of thinking and feeling than had ever been 
discovered before. During recent years, the administration 
of the Belgian, Dutch, English and French colonies has 
become on the whole more humane and, at the same time, 
more efficient. This double improvement is mainly due 
to the anthropologists, with their doctrine of intelligent 
and sympathetic non-violence. The hideous methods 
employed in the conquest of Abyssinia are unhappily 
symptomatic of the new, worse spirit that is now abroad. 

So much for the power of non-violence in the relations 
of individuals with individuals. We have now to consider 
mass movements in which the principles of non-violence 
are applied to the relations between large groups or entire 
populations and their governments. Before citing examples 
of these it will be as well to reconsider briefly a matter 
already touched upon in an earlier chapter, namely, the 
results which follow attempts to carry through intrinsically 
desirable social changes by violent methods. History 
seems to demonstrate very clearly that, when revolution 
is accompanied by more than a very little violence, it 
achieves, not the desirable results anticipated by its makers, 
but some or all of the thoroughly undesirable results that 
flow from the use of violence. During the French 
Revolution, for example, the transfer of power to the 
Third Estate was accomplished by the regularly elected 


National Assembly. The Terror was the fruit of sordid 
quarrels for power among the revolutionaries themselves 
and its results were the extinction of the republic and the 
rise, first, of the Directory, then of Napoleon's military 
dictatorship. Under Napoleon a revolutionary fervour 
that found its natural expression in acts of violence was 
easily transformed into military fervour. French im- 
perialism resulted in the intensification of nationalistic 
feelings throughout Europe, in the almost universal im- 
position of military slavery, or conscription, and in the 
systematization of economic rivalry between national 
groups. It would be interesting to construct a historical 
'Uchronia* (to use Renouvier's useful word), based upon 
the postulate that Robespierre and the other Jacobin 
leaders were convinced pacifists. The * non-Euclidean* 
history deducible from this first principle would be a 
history, I suspect, innocent of Napoleon, of Bismarck, of 
British imperialism and the scramble for Africa, of the 
World War, of militant Communism and Fascism, of 
Hitler and universal rearmament. What follows is a 
Uchronian account of very recent history as it might 
have been if the Spanish Republic had been pacifist. "Even 
though we know well that pacifism was as impossible to 
the working-class psychology of 1931 Spain as to that of 
the United States in 1917, it is important to point out 
that, if the Spanish Republic had actually been pacifist in 
theory and practice, the present counter-revolution could 
never have arisen. A pacifist republic would, of course, 
have immediately liberated the conquered Moors and 
transformed them into friends; it would have dismissed 
the old regime generals and returned their armies to civil 
life. It would have done away with the fears of Church 
and peasants by requiring from Communists and Anarcho- 
Syndicalists the renunciation of violence during the period 
of the Popular Front.' (From What about Spain f by 

K I4S 


Jessie Wallace Hughan, Ph.D., War Resisters League, 
New York.) 

Returning from Uchronic speculations to a considera- 
tion of actuality, we find that in Russia the original aim of 
the revolutionaries was the creation of a society enjoying 
the maximum possible amount of self-government in every 
field of activity. Unfortunately, the rulers of the country 
have persisted in making use of the violent methods 
inherited from the old Tsarist regime. With what results? 
Russia is now a highly centralized military and economic 
dictatorship. Its government is oligarchical and makes 
use of secret police methods, conscription, press censor- 
ship, and intensive propaganda or bourrage de crane, for 
the purpose of keeping the people in unquestioning 

By way of contrast, let us now consider a few examples 
of non-violent revolution. Of these, the movements best 
known to English-speaking readers are those organized by 
Gandhi in South Africa and later in India. The South 
African movement may be described as completely suc- 
cessful. The discriminatory legislation against the Hindus 
was repealed in 1914, entirely as the result of non-violent 
resistance and non-co-operation on the part of the Indian 
population. In India several important successes were 
recorded, and it was shown that very large groups of men 
and women could be trained to respond to die most brutal 
treatment with a quiet courage and equanimity that pro- 
foundly impressed their persecutors, the spectators in the 
immediate vicinity and, through the press, the public 
opinion of the entire world. The task of effectively training 
very large numbers in a very short time proved, however, 
too great and, rather than see his movement degenerate 
into civil war (in which the British, being better armed, 
would inevitably have won a complete victory), Gandhi 
suspended the activities of his non-violent army. 



Among other non-violent movements crowned by partial 
or complete success we may mention the following. From 
1901 to 1905 the Finns conducted a campaign of non-violent 
resistance to Russian oppression; this was completely 
successful and in 1905 the law imposing conscription on 
the Finns was repealed. The long campaign of non- 
violent resistance and non-co-operation conducted by the 
Hungarians under Dedk was crowned with complete 
success in 1867. (It is significant that the name of Kossuth, 
the leader of the violent Hungarian revolution of 1848 was, 
and still is, far better known than that of Dedk. Kossuth 
was an ambitious, power-loving militarist, who completely 
failed to liberate his country. Dedk refused political 
power and personal distinction, was unshakably a pacifist, 
and without shedding blood compelled the Austrian 
government to restore the Hungarian constitution. Such 
is our partiality for ambition and militarism that we all 
remember Kossuth, in spite of the complete failure of his 
policy, while few of us have ever heard of Dedk, in spite 
of the fact that he was completely successful.) In Germany 
two campaigns of non-violent resistance were successfully 
carried out against Bismarck the Kulturkampf by the 
Catholics, and the working-class campaign, after 1871, for the 
recognition of the Social-Democratic Party. More recently 
non- violent resistance and non-co-operation were success- 
fully used in modern Egypt against British domination. 

A special form of non-co-operation is the boycott, 
which has been used effectively on a number of occasions. 
For example, it was employed by the Persians to break 
the hated tobacco monopoly. The Chinese employed it 
against British goods, after the shooting of students by 
British troops. It was also used in India by the followers 
of Gandhi. A striking example of the way in which even 
a threat of non-violent non-co-operation can avert war 
was provided by the British Labour Movement in 1920. 



The Council of Action formed on August pth of that year 
warned the government that if it persisted in its scheme 
of sending British troops to Poland for an attack upon 
the Russians, a general strike would be called, labour 
would refuse to transport munitions or men, and a com* 
plete boycott of the war would be declared. Faced by 
this ultimatum, the Lloyd George government abandoned 
its plans for levying war on Russia. (This episode proves 
two things: first, that if enough people so desire and have 
sufficient determination, they can prevent the government 
of their country from going to war; second, that this 
condition is fulfilled only in rare and exceptional circum- 
stances. In most cases the great majority of a country's 
inhabitants do not, when the moment comes, desire to 
prevent their government from going to war. They are 
swept off their feet by the flood of nationalistic sentiment 
which is always released in a moment of crisis and which 
a skilful government knows how to augment and direct 
by means of its instruments of propaganda. Once more 
we see that the machinery for stopping war is present, 
but that the will to use that machinery is generally lacking. 
To create and reinforce that will, first in themselves and 
then in others, is the task of devoted individuals associated 
for the purpose of establishing peace.) 

I have given examples of the use of non-violence in the 
relations of individuals with individuals and of whole 
populations with governments. It is now time to consider 
the use of non-violence in the relations of governments 
with other governments. Examples of non-violence on 
the governmental level are seldom of a very heroic kind 
and the motives actuating the parties concerned are seldom 
unmixed. The tradition of politics is a thoroughly dis- 
honourable tradition. The world sanctions two systems 
of morality one for private individuals, another for 
national and other groups. Men who, in private life, are 



consistently honest, humane and considerate, believe that 
when they are acting as the representatives of a group 
they are justified in doing things which, as individuals, 
they know to be utterly disgraceful. The nation, as we 
have seen, is personified in our imaginations as a being 
superhuman in power and glory, sub-human in morality. 
We never even expect it to behave in any but the most 
discreditable way. This being so, we must not be sur- 
prised if examples of genuine non-violent behaviour be- 
tween governments are rare, except in the case of disputes 
involving matters so unimportant that the sub-human 
disputants don't feel it worth their while to fight. These 
can generally be settled easily enough by means of the 
existing machinery of conciliation. But wherever more 
important issues are at stake, national egotism is allowed 
free rein and the machinery of conciliation is either not 
used at all or used only reluctantly and with manifest bad 
will. In recent European history it is possible to find 
only one example of the completely non-violent settlement 
of a major dispute between two governments. In 1814 
the Treaty of Kiel provided that Norway should be handed 
over to the kingdom of Sweden. Bernadotte invaded the 
country; but after a fortnight, during which no serious 
conflict took place, opened negotiations. The union of the 
two countries was agreed upon, being achieved, in the 
words of the preamble to the Act of Union, 'not by force 
or arms, but by free conviction.' Ninety years later the 
union was dissolved. By an overwhelming majority, the 
Norwegians decided to become independent. The Swedes 
accepted that decision. No violence was used on either 
side. The relations between the two countries have 
remained cordial ever since. 

This has been a long digression, but a necessary one. 
Non-violence is so often regarded as impractical, or at 
best a method which only exceptional men and women 



can use, that it is essential to show, first, that even when 
used sporadically and unsystematically (as has been the 
case up till now), the method actually works; and second, 
that it can be used by quite ordinary people and even, 
on occasion, by those morally sub-human beings, kings, 
politicians, diplomats and the other representatives of 
national groups, considered in their professional capacity. 
(Out of business hours these morally sub-human beings 
may live up to the most exacting ethical standards.) 

Modern associations of devoted individuals will have as 
one of their principal functions the systematic cultivation 
of non-violent behaviour in all the common relationships 
of life in personal relationships, in economic relation- 
ships, in relationships of groups with other groups and 
of groups with governments. The means by which com- 
munities can secure non-violent behaviour as between 
their members are essentially those which must be applied 
by all reformers. The social structure of the community 
can be arranged in such a way that individuals shall not be 
tempted to seek power, to bully, to become rapacious; 
and at the same time a direct attack can be made upon the 
sources of the individual will in other words, the indi- 
vidual can be taught, and taught to teach himself, how to 
repress his tendencies towards rapacity, bullying, power- 
seeking and the like. Further training will be needed in 
the repression not only of fear a consummation success- 
fully achieved by military training but also in the re- 
pression of anger and hatred. The member of our hypo- 
thetical association must be able to meet violence without 
answering violence and without fear or complaint and he 
must be able to meet it in this way, not only in moments 
of enthusiasm, but also when the blood is cold, when there 
is no emotional support from friends and sympathizers. 
Non-violent resistance to violent oppression is relatively 
easy in times of great emotional excitement; but it is very 


difficult at other times. It is so difficult as to be practically 
impossible except for those who have undergone systematic 
training for that very purpose. It takes three to four 
years of training to make a good soldier. It probably 
takes at least as long to make a good non-violent resister, 
capable of putting his principles into practice in any 
circumstances, however horrible. The question of group 
training has been fully discussed by Richard Gregg in his 
Power of Non-Vtolencey and it is therefore unnecessary for 
me to repeat the discussion in this place. The psycho- 
logical techniques for affecting the sources of the individual 
will techniques developed by the devotees of every 
religion are dealt with in a later chapter. 

Trained individuals would perform two main functions. 
First, it would be their business to keep the life of the 
association at a higher level than the life of the surrounding 
society, and in this way to hold up to that society a working 
model of a superior type of social organization. Second, 
they would have to 'go out into the world,* where their 
trained capacities would be useful in allaying violence once 
it had broken out and in organizing non-violent resistance 
to domestic oppression and the preparation for and waging 
of international war. 

Groups of individuals pledged to take no part in any 
future war already exist (e.g. The War Resisters* Inter- 
national, The Peace Pledge Union); but their organization 
is too loose and their membership too large and too widely 
scattered for them to be considered as associations, in the 
sense in which I have been using the word above. None 
the less they can and do render very important services 
to the cause for which all the reformers have always fought. 
They are propagandists, first of all. In private conver- 
sations, in speeches at public meetings, in pamphlets and 
newspaper articles, their members preach the gospel of 
non-violence, thus continuing and extending into non- 


sectarian fields the admirable work performed by the 
Society of Friends and other purely religious organizations. 
The result is that in England, in Holland, in the Scan- 
dinavian countries, in America and to some extent in 
Belgium and France, the public at large is beginning to 
become aware, if only dimly and still theoretically, that 
there exists a morally better and more effective alternative 
to revolution, to war, to violence and brutality of every 

Groups of war resisters, when sufficiently large and, in 
the moment of crisis, sufficiently unanimous, can prevent 
their government from going to war. This was clearly 
shown in 1920, when the Council of Action compelled 
Lloyd George to call off his threatened attack on the 
Soviets. It is unfortunately quite clear that the official 
leaders of the various left-wing parties of the world are 
not likely, in the immediate future, to call for similar 
passive resistance to any war which can be represented as 
'a war of defence/ 'a war to save democracy,* 'a war 
against Fascism,' even a 'war to end war/ This means 
that, in the case of practically any war that is likely to 
break out in the near future, organized labour cannot be 
counted upon to work for peace. Without the aid of 
organized labour, war resisters have but the smallest chance 
of actually preventing their governments from waging a 
war. Nevertheless they can certainly do something to 
make the process morally and perhaps even physically 
more difficult than it would otherwise be. Peace can be 
secured and maintained only by the simultaneous adoption 
in many different fields of long-term policies, carefully 
designed with this end in view. Meanwhile, however, 
there is one short-term policy which every individual can 
adopt the policy of war resistance. 

People of 'advanced views' often question this con- 
clusion. The causes of war, they argue, are predominantly 

economic; these causes cannot be removed except by a 
change in the existing economic system; therefore a policy 
of war resistance by individuals is futile. 

Those who use such arguments belong to two main 
classes : currency reformers and socialists. 

Currency reformers, such as Major Douglas and his 
followers, point to the defects in our monetary system and 
affirm that, if these defects were remedied, prosperity 
could be spread over the whole world and every possible 
cause of war eliminated. This is surely over-optimistic. 
Defects in the monetary system may intensify economic 
conflicts in general. But by no means all economic con- 
flicts are conflicts between nations. Many of the bitterest 
economic conflicts are between rival groups within the 
same nation; but, because these rival groups feel a senti- 
ment of national solidarity, their conflicts do not result in 
war. It is only when monetary systems are organized in 
the interest of particular nations or groups of nations that 
they become a potential cause of war. So long as national- 
ism exists, scientifically managed currencies may actually 
make for war rather than peace. 'Once the controllers of 
national monetary systems begin to apply their power 
self-consciously, for the betterment of their people, we 
have monetary conflicts arising on strictly national lines, 
such as we see to-day in competitive depreciation and 
exchange control/ (Kenneth Boulding in Economic Causes 
of War!) The greater the conscious scientific control 
exercised by national authorities, the greater the inter- 
national friction, at least until such time as all nations agree 
to adopt the same methods of control. (See the relevant 
passages in the chapter on * Planned Society/) 

The present economic system is unjust and inefficient 
and it is urgently desirable, as the socialists insist, that it 
should be changed. But such change would not lead 
immediately and automatically to universal peace. 'In so 



far as the socialization of a single nation creates truly 
National monopolies in the exports of that nation, so the 
power of the government increases and the national 
character of economic conflicts becomes intensified. Thus 
the socialization of a single nation, even though the rulers 
of that nation be most peaceably minded, is likely to 
intensify the fears of other nations in proportion as the 
control of the socialist government over its country's 
economic life is increased. . . . Unless they are supported 
by a strong conscious peace sentiment, they (the socialist 
regimes of individual nations) may be turned to purposes 
of war just as effectively and indeed probably more 
effectively than capitalist societies/ (Op. cit.) 

It will thus be seen that individual war resisters acting 
alone or in association have a very important part to play 
in the immediate future. That changes in the present 
economic and monetary systems must be made is evident; 
and it is also clear that, in the long run, these changes 
will make for the establishment of the conditions of per- 
manent peace. But meanwhile, so long as nationalistic 
sentiment persists, reforms of the economic and monetary 
system may temporarily increase international ill-feeling 
and the probability of war. The function of associations 
of individual war resisters is to prevent, if possible, necessary 
and intrinsically desirable changes in the economic and 
monetary systems from resulting in international discord 
and war. 

In some countries the missionaries of non-violence can 
still preach their gospel without interference. In most of 
the world, however, they can only labour, if at all, in 
secret. Men of good will have always had to combine 
the virtues of the serpent with those of the dove. This 
serpentine wisdom is more than ever necessary to-day, 
when the official resistance to men of good will is greater 
and better organized than at any previous period. Progress 


in technology and in the science and art of organization 
has made it possible for governments to bring their police 
to a pitch of efficiency undreamed of by Napoleon, 
Metternich and the other great virtuosi of secret-police 
rule in previous ages. Before the Risorgimento the 
Austrians governed Italy by means of gendarmes, spies and 
agents provocateurs. Garibaldi fought to rid his country 
of these disgusting parasites. To-day, Mussolini has a 
secret police for superior to anything that the^ Austrians 
could boast of. It is the same in contemporary Russia. 
Stalin's police is like the Tsar's like the Tsar's but, 
thanks to telephones, wireless, fast cars and the latest 
filing systems, a good deal smarter. The same is true of 
every other country. All over the world the police are 
able to act with a rapidity, a precision and a foresight 
never matched in the past. 1 Moreover, they are equipped 
with scientific weapons, such as the ordinary person cannot 
procure. Against forces thus armed and organized, violence 
and cunning are unavailing. The only methods by which 
a people can protect itself against the tyranny of rulers 
possessing a modern police force are the non-violent 
methods of massive non-co-operation and civil disobedience. 
Such methods are the only ones which give the people a 
chance of taking advantage of its numerical superiority to 
the ruling caste and to discount its manifest inferiority in 
armaments. For this reason it is enormously important 
that the principles of non-violence should be propagated 
rapidly and over the widest possible area. For it is only 
by means of well and widely organized movements of 

1 Like all other instruments, the modern police force can be 
used either well or ill. Police trained in non-violence could use 
modern methods to forestall any outbreak of violence, to prevent 
potential hostilities from developing, to foster co-operation. A 
non-violent police force could be made a complete substitute for 
an army. 


non-violence that the populations of the world can hope 
to avoid that enslavement to the state which in so many 
countries is already an accomplished fact and which the 
threat of war and the advance of technology are in process 
of accomplishing elsewhere. In the circumstances of our 
age, most movements of revolutionary violence are likely 
to be suppressed instantaneously; in cases where the 
revolutionaries are well equipped with modern arms, the 
movement will probably turn into a long and stubbornly 
disputed civil war, as was the case in Spain. The chances 
that any change for the better will result from such a 
civil war are exceedingly small. Violence will merely 
produce the ordinary results of violence and the last state 
of the country will be worse than the first. This being so, 
non-violence presents the only hope of salvation. But, in 
order to resist the assaults of a numerous and efficient 
police, or, in the case of foreign invasion, of soldiers, 
non-violent movements will have to be well organized and 
widely spread. The regression from humanitarianism, 
characteristic of our age, will probably resuk in manifesta- 
tions of non-violent resistance being treated with a severity 
more ruthless than that displayed by most governments in 
recent times. Such severities can only be answered by 
great numbers and great devotion. Confronted by huge 
masses determined not to co-operate and equally determined 
not to use violence, even the most ruthless dictatorship 
is nonplussed. Moreover, even the most ruthless dictator- 
ship needs the support of public opinion, and no govern- 
ment which massacres or imprisons large numbers of 
systematically non-violent individuals can hope to retain 
such support. Once dictatorial rule has been established, 
the task of organizing non-violent resistance to tyranny 
or war becomes exceedingly difficult. The hope of the 
world lies in those countries where it is still possible for 
individuals to associate freely, express their opinions with- 


out constraint and, in general, have their being at least in 
partial independence of the state. 

A more efficient police force is not the only obstacle 
which technological progress has put in the way of desirable 
change. I have said that even the most ruthless dictatorship 
needs the support of public opinion; unhappily, modern 
technology has put into the hands of the ruling minorities 
new instruments for influencing public opinion incom- 
parably more efficient than anything possessed by the 
tyrants of the past The press and the radio are already 
with us, and within a few years television will doubtless 
be perfected. Seeing is believing to an even greater 
extent than hearing; and a government which is able to 
fill every home with subtly propagandist pictures as well 
as speech and print, will probably be able, within wide 
limits, to manufacture whatever kind of public opinion it 
needs. Missionaries for our hypothetical associations are 
likely to find in this synthetic public opinion an enemy 
even more difficult to overcome or circumvent than the 
secret police. Part of their work will have to be a work 
of education the building up in individual minds of 
intellectual and emotional resistance to suggestion. (See 
the relevant passages in the chapter on * Education/) 

So much for the first task of our associations the 
establishment of peace through the doing and teaching of 
those things which make for peace. Their other task is 
to cure themselves and the world of the prevailing obsession 
with money and power. Once more, direct approach to 
the sources of the individual will must be combined with 
the 'preventive ethics* of a social arrangement that protects 
from the temptations of avarice and ambition. What 
should be the nature of this social arrangement? It will 
be best to begin with a consideration of what it should 
not be. Most of those who in recent years have actually 
founded associations of devoted individuals have not even 



attempted to solve the economic problems of our time: 
they have simply run away from them. Appalled by the 
complexities of life in an age of technological advance, 
they have tried to go backwards. Their communities have 
been little Red Indian Reservations of economic primitives, 
fenced away from the vulgar world of affairs. But the 
problem of modern industry and finance cannot possibly be 
solved by setting up irrelevant little associations of handi- 
craftsmen and amateur peasants, incapable in most cases 
of earning their livelihood and dependent for their bread 
and butter upon income derived from the hated world of 
machines. We cannot get rid of machinery, for the simple 
reason that, in the process of getting rid of it, we should 
be forced to get rid of that moiety of the human race whose 
existence on this planet is made possible only by the 
existence of machines. The machine age in Erewhon had 
evidently led to no startling increase of population; hence 
the relative ease with which the Erewhonians were able to 
return to the horse and handicraft civilization. In the 
real world, machinery has resulted in the trebling of the 
population of the industrial countries within a century and 
a half. A return to horses and handicrafts means a return, 
through starvation, revolution, massacre and disease, to 
the old level of population. Obviously, then, such a 
return is outside the sphere of practical politics. Those 
who preach such a return and, in their communities of 
devoted individuals, actually practise it, are merely shirking 
the real issues. Machine production cannot be abolished; 
it is here to stay. The question is whether it is to stay 
as an instrument of slavery or as a way to freedom. A 
similar question arises in regard to the wealth created by 
machine production. Is this wealth to be distributed in 
such a way as to secure the maximum of social injustice, 
or the minimum? Governments and private companies 
in the ordinary way of business are not specially concerned 


to discover the proper solutions of these problems. The 
task, therefore, devolves upon associations of devoted 

We see then, that if such associations are to be useful 
in the modern world, they must go into business and go 
into business in the most scientific, the most unprimitive 
way possible. 

Now, in order to engage in any advanced form of 
industrial or agricultural production, considerable quantities 
of capital are required. The fact is unfortunate; but in 
existing circumstances it cannot be otherwise. Good 
intentions and personal devotion are not enough to save 
the world; if they were, the world would have bfcen 
saved long before this for the supply of saints has never 
failed. But the good are sometimes stupid and very often 
ill-informed. Few saints have also been scientists or 
organizers. Conversely, few scientists and organizers have 
been saints. If the world is to be saved, scientific methods 
must be combined with good intentions and devotion. 
By themselves, neither goodness nor intelligence are equal 
to the task of changing society and individuals for the better. 

Where modern industrial and agricultural production 
are concerned, scientific method cannot be applied in vacua. 
It must be applied to machines, to workmen, to an office 
organization. But machines must be bought and supplied 
with their motive power, workmen and administrators 
must be paid. Hence the need of capital. In the circum- 
stances of modern life, associations of devoted individuals 
cannot do much good unless they command the means to 
make a considerable investment. 

Having made its investment and embarked upon pro- 
duction, the association will have to work out, by practical 
experiment, the most satisfactory solutions of such problems 
as the following : 

To find the best way of combining workers' self- 



government with technical efficiency responsible freedom 
-at the periphery with advanced scientific management at 
the centre. 

To find the best way of varying the individual's labours 
so as to eliminate boredom and multiply educative contacts 
with other individuals, working in responsible self- 
governing groups. 

To find the best way of disposing of the wealth created 
by machine production. (Some form of communal owner- 
ship of property and income seems, as we have seen, to 
be a necessary condition of successful living in an association 
of devoted individuals.) 

To find the best way of investing superfluous wealth 
and to determine the proportion of such wealth that ought 
to be invested in capital goods. 

To find the best way of using the gifts of individual 
workers and the best way of employing persons belonging 
to the various psychological types. (See the chapter on 

To find the best form of community life and the best 
way of using leisure. 

To find the best form of education for children and of 
self-education for adults. (See the chapters on 'Education* 
and 'Religious Practices.') 

To find the best form of communal government and the 
best way to use gifts of leadership without subjecting the 
individuals so gifted to the temptation of ambition or 
arousing in their minds the lust for power. (See the 
chapter on 'Inequality/) 

Devoted and intelligent individuals living in association 
and working systematically along such lines as these should 
be able quite quickly to build up a working model of a 
more satisfactory type of society. 

1 60 

Chapter XI 

HPHE world which a poor man inhabits is not the same 
JL as the world a rich man inhabits. If there is to be 
intelligent co-operation between all members of a society, 
there must be agreement as to the things upon which they 
are to work together. People who are forced by economic 
inequality to inhabit dissimilar universes will be unable to 
co-operate intelligently. 

To obtain complete equality of income for all is probably 
impossible and perhaps even undesirable. But certain steps 
in the direction of equalization can and undoubtedly ought 
to be taken. 

Even in capitalist countries the principle not only of the 
minimum but also of the maximum wage has already been 
admitted. Within the last thirty years it has generally been 
agreed that there are limits beyond which incomes and 
personal accumulations of capital ought not to go. In such 
countries as England, France and, more recently, the United 
States, fortunes are diminished at every death by anything 
from a tenth to three-quarters. Between deaths, die tax 
collector regularly takes away from the rich anything 
from a quarter to three-fifths of their incomes. Now 
that the principle of the limitation of wealth has 
been implicitly accepted, even by the wealthy, there 
should be no great difficulty in imposing an absolute 

At what figure should the maximum wage be fixed ? A 
judge of the London Bankruptcy Court, retiring after half 
a lifetime of service, made an interesting statement recently 
L 161 


on the relation between income and happiness. He had 
observed, he said, that increase of income tended to result 
in increase of personal satisfaction up to a Hmit of about 
5000 a year. After that figure, satisfaction seemed gener- 
ally to decline. (Non-attachment, we might add, becomes 
difficult or impossible for most people at a point consider- 
ably below this figure. "It is harder for a rich man . . .' 
The possession of considerable wealth causes men to 
identify themselves with what is less than self does so 
as effectively as the possession of means so small that the 
individual suffers hunger and continual anxiety. Extreme 
poverty can also be a needle's eye.) 

The problem of the maximum wage can also be ap- 
proached from another angle. The question may be posed 
in this way: in existing circumstances, how much does an 
individual require in order to live in the highest state of 
physical and intellectual efficiency, of which his organism 
is capable? It has been calculated that, if he is to be 
properly nourished, housed and educated, if he is to have 
adequate holidays, adequate medical attention and adequate 
educative travel, he will need an income of about 600 or 
700 a year, or its equivalent in cash or communally pro- 
vided services. Where several people are living together 
in a family group, this sum can doubtless be reduced with- 
out reducing each individual's opportunities for self- 
development. At the present time, the great majority of 
human beings receive only a fraction of this optimum 

The degree of economic inequality is not the same in all 
countries. In England, for example, inequality is greater, 
even among employees of the state, than in France. The 
highest government servants in England are paid forty or 
fifty times as much as the lowest. In France, the head of 
the department receives only about twenty times as much 
as the typist Strangely enough, the degree of economic 



inequality would seem to be greater in Soviet Russia than 
in many capitalist countries. Max Eastman cites figures 
which show that, whereas the managing director of an 
American mining firm receives about forty times as much 
as one of his miners, the corresponding person in Russia 
may be earning up to eighty times the wage of the lowest- 
paid worker. 

What is the degree of economic inequality that should be 
allowed to exist in any community? Clearly, there can be 
no universally valid answer, at any rate in existing circum- 
stances. In a society where the minimum wage is very 
small, it may be necessary to fix the rate of inequality at a 
higher level than in one where the majority of people are 
earning something more nearly approaching the optimum 
income. This may seem unjust and (since poor and rich 
inhabit different worlds) inexpedient. And, in effect, it is 
unjust and inexpedient. But the inexpediency of reducing 
all incomes to a level far below the optimum is probably 
greater than the inexpediency of keeping a few incomes at 
or above the optimum level. No society can make progress 
unless at least some of its members are in receipt of an 
income sufficient to ensure their fullest development. This 
means that, where minimum wages are low, as they are in 
even the richest of contemporary communities, it may be 
necessary to allow the best-paid individuals to draw an 
income twenty or even thirty times as great as that of the 
worst-paid. If ever it becomes possible to distribute the 
optimum income to all, the inequality rate may be greatly 
reduced. There is no reason, in such a society, why the 
highest incomes should be more than two or three times 
as great as the lowest. 

The economic is not the only kind of inequality. There 
is also the more formidable, the less remediable inequality 
which exists between individuals of different psychological 
types. "The fool sees not the same tree that the wise man 


sees. 9 The universes of two individuals may be profoundly 
dissimilar, even though they may be in receipt of equal 
incomes. Pin is to Addington as London is to Paddington. 
Nature as well as nurture has set great gulfs between us. 
Some of these gulfs are unbridged and seemingly unbridge- 
able; across them there is no communication. For 
example, I simply cannot imagine what it feels like to be 
a genius at chess, a great mathematician, a composer, who 
does his thinking in terms of melodies and progressions of 
harmonies. Some people are so clear-sighted that they can 
see the moons of Jupiter without a telescope; in some the 
sense of smell is so keen that, after a little training, they can 
enumerate all the constituent elements in a perfume com- 
posed of fifteen to twenty separate substances; some people 
can detect minute variations of pitch, to which the majority 
of ears are deaf. 

Many attempts have been made to produce a scientific 
classification of human types in terms of their physical and 
psychological characteristics. For example, there was the 
Hippocratic classification of men according to the pre- 
dominance of one or other of the four humours; this 
theory dominated European medicine for upwards of two 
thousand years. Meanwhile the astrologers and palmists 
were using fivefold classification in terms of planetary 
types. We still speak of sanguinp or mercurial tempera- 
ments, describe people as jovial, phlegmatic, melancholic, 
saturnine. Aristotle wrote a treatise on physiognomy in 
which he attempted a classification of individuals in terms 
of the supposed characteristics of the animals they resembled. 
This pseudo-zoological classification of human beings kept 
cropping up in physiognomical literature until the time of 

In recent years we have had a number of new classifica- 
tions. Stockard, in his Physical Basis of Personality, uses 
a twofold classification in terms of 'linear* and 'lateral' 


types of human beings* Kretschmer uses a threefold 
classification. So does Dr. William Sheldon, whose 
classification in terms of somatotonic, viscerotonic and 
cerebrotonic I shall use in the present chapter. It seems 
probable that, with the latest work in this field, we may 
be approaching a genuinely scientific description of human 
types. Meanwhile, let us not forget that many of the old 
systems of classification, though employing strange terms 
and an erroneous explanatory hypothesis, were based firmly 
upon the facts of observation and personal experience. 

It is worth remarking that there have been fashions 
in temperaments just as there have been fashions in clothes 
and medicine, theology and the female figure. For example, 
the men of die eighteenth century admired above all the 
phlegmatic temperament the temperament of the man 
who is naturally cautious, thoughtful, not easily moved. 
Voltaire gave place to Rousseau; admiration for a certain 
sagacious coolness, to the cult of sentimentality for senti- 
mentality's sake. Phlegm lost its old prestige and the 
sanguine temperament hot passion and wet tears rose to 
a position of fashionable pre-eminence, from which it was 
driven a generation later by the Byronic temperament, 
which is a mixture of sanguine and melancholy, a strange 
hybrid of inconsistencies, warm and moist allied with cold 
and dry. Meanwhile, at the Gothic height of the Romantic 
Movement, the Philosophic Radicals were doing their best 
to revive the prestige of phlegm; and a little later it was 
the choleric temperament, the temperament of the pushful, 
energetic man of business, that came into fashion. With 
muscular Christianity even religion becomes choleric and 
(in Sheldon's phrase) somatotonic. 

In view of the fact that membership of one or other of 
the psycho-physiological species is hereditary and inalien- 
able, the habit of exalting one temperament at the expense 
of ail the rest is manifestly silly. All the temperaments 



exist and something can be made of each of them. People 
"have a right to be phlegmatic, just as they have a right to 
be plump. In our intolerant ignorance we demand that all 
shall conform to a fashionable ideal and be, say, melancholy 
or thin. There are times (such is our folly) when we 
demand that they shall have psychological characteristics 
which are to a great extent inconsistent with the physio- 
logical peculiarities that are in fashion at the moment. 
Thus, until a year or two since, we insisted that women 
should be simultaneously good mixers and as thin as rakes. 
But the born good-mixer is a person of lateral type, plump 
and well covered. Fashion in this case demanded the 
conjunction of incompatibles. 

All the systems of classification are agreed that no indi- 
vidual belongs exclusively to one type; to some extent all 
men and women are of mixed type. But the amount of 
mixing may be small or great. Where it is small, the indi- 
vidual approximates to the pure type and is separated by a 
great gulf of psychological incommensurability from those 
in whom the characteristics of some other type predominate. 
Thus, it is all but impossible for the melancholy man to 
enter the universe inhabited by the choleric. The person 
who, if he went mad, would be a manic-depressive, cannot 
comprehend the potential victim of schizophrenia. The 
rotund and jolly 'lateral* type is worlds apart from the 
unexpansive, inward-turning * linear/ The 'viscerotonic' 
man simply can't imagine why the 'cerebrotonic' shouldn't 
be a 'good mixer,' like himself. The one 'has a warm 
heart'; his 'reins move,' his 'bowels yearn.' The other 
is *a highbrow' and 'has no guts/ (Rich treasures of 
physiological psychology lie buried in the language of the 
Old Testament and even in schoolboys' slang !) 

At this point an example from my own personal experi- 
ence may not be out of place. My own nature, as it happens, 
is on the whole phlegmatic, and, in consequence, I have the 



greatest difficulty in entering into the experiences of those 
whose emotions are easily and violently aroused. Before 
such works of art as Werther^ for example, or Women in 
Love, or the Prophetic Books of William Blake I stand 
admiring, but bewildered. I don't know why people should 
be shaken by such tempests of emotion on provocations, 
to my mind, so slight. Reading through the Prophetic 
Books not long ago, I noticed that certain words, such as 
* howling,' ' cloud,' 'storm,' * shriek' occurred with extra- 
ordinary frequency. My curiosity was aroused; I made a 
pencil mark in the margin every time one of these words 
occurred. Adding up the score at the end of a morning's 
reading, I found that the average worked out to something 
like two howls and a tempest to every page of verse. * The 
Prophetic Books are, of course, symbolical descriptions of 
psychological states. What must have been the mentality 
of a man for whom thunder, lightning, clouds and screams 
seemed the most appropriate figure of speech for describing 
his ordinary thoughts and feelings? For my own part, I 
simply cannot imagine. I observe the facts, I record them 
but only from the outside, only as a field naturalist. What 
they mean in terms of actual experience, I don't even pretend 
to know. There is a gulf here, an absence of communica- 
tion. Nevertheless, if I had known Blake, I should cer- 
tainly have found that there was a common ground between 
us, that there were ways in which we could have established 
satisfactory human relations. If, for example, I had behaved 
towards him with courtesy and consideration, he would 
almost undoubtedly have behaved towards me in the same 
manner. If I had treated him honourably, the chances are 
that he would have treated me honourably. If I had dis- 
played confidence in him, it is highly probable that he 
would sooner or later have displayed an equal confidence 
in me. The solution of the problem of natural (and, where 
it exists, of acquired) inequality is moral and practical. The 



gulfs which separate human beings of unlike temperaments 
and different degrees of ability do not extend over the 
entire field of the personality. The inhabitants of the high- 
lands of Arizona are cut off from one another by the mile- 
deep abyss of the Grand Canyon. But if they follow the 
Colorado River down towards its mouth they find them- 
selves at last in the plains at a point where the stream can 
be conveniently bridged. Something analogous is true in 
the psychological world. Human beings may be separated 
by differences of intellectual ability as wide and deep as the 
Grand Canyon, may peer at one another, uncomprehend- 
ing, across great gulfs of temperamental dissimilarity. But 
it is always in their power to move away from the terri- 
tories in which these divisions exist; it is always possible 
for them, if they so desire, to find in the common world of 
action, the site for a broad and substantial bridge connecting 
even the most completely incommensurable of psycho- 
logical universes. It is the business of the large-scale 
reformer so to arrange the structure of society that no 
impediment shall be put in the way of bridge-building. It 
is the business of educators and religious teachers to per- 
suade individual men and women that bridge-building is 
desirable and to teach them at the same time how to trans- 
late mere theory and platonic good resolutions into actual 

Impediments to bridge-building will be most numerous 
in communities where inequalities of income (and, along 
with them, inequalities of education) are very great and 
where the social pattern is hierarchical and authoritarian. 
They will be fewest in communities where the principle of 
self-government is most widely applied, where responsible 
group-life is most intense, and where inequalities of income 
and education are small. Feudalism, capitalism and mili- 
tary dictatorship (whether accompanied by public owner- 
ship of the means of production or not) are almost equally 



unfavourable to bridge-building. Under these regimes 
natural inequalities are emphasized and new artificial in- 
equalities created ex nihilo. The most propitious environ- 
ment for equality is constituted by a society where the 
means of production are owned co-operatively, where 
power is decentralized, and where the community is 
organized in a multiplicity of small, inter-related but, as 
far as may be, self-governing groups of mutually responsible 
men and women. 

Equality in action in other words, reciprocal good 
behaviour is the only kind of equality that possesses a 
real existence. But this equality in action cannot be fully 
realized except where individuals of different types and 
professions are given opportunities for associating freely 
and frequently with one another. It is the job of the large- 
scale reformer to arrange the social structure in such a way 
that existing obstacles to free and frequent contact between 
individuals shall be removed and new opportunities for 
contact created. The change-over from an authoritarian to 
a co-operative pattern of society would effectively get rid 
of most of the arbitrary caste barriers which at present make 
it so hard for individuals to come together freely. At the 
same time opportunities for the making of new contacts 
should be created in a variety of ways. For example, it 
would be possible to extend to a wider circle the advantages 
of the simultaneously academic and technical system of 
education developed by Dr. A. E. Morgan at Antioch 
College, Ohio. (I shall return to this example in the 
chapter on Education.) 

It is not only during the period of formal education that 
opportunities for new contacts can be made. By arranging 
for individuals to change over from one job to another, the 
large-scale reformer can greatly increase the number of 
personal relationships entered into during any given work- 
ing life. Such changes of job are valuable, not only because 



they bring the individual into contact with new groups of 
*his fellow-men and women, but also because they alleviate 
the boredom induced by monotony and the sight of all-too- 
familiar surroundings. (Boredom, as we have already seen, 
is one of the reasons for the persistent popularity of war; 
any change, whether in the structure of society or in the 
structure of the individual personality, that tends to reduce 
boredom, tends also to reduce the danger of war.) 

I have given only two examples ; but many other methods 
could doubtless be devised for multiplying valuable con- 
tacts and so transforming the life of every individual man 
and woman into an education in responsibility and equal 

There are no bridges across the Grand Canyon. Those 
who live on opposite sides of the abyss must go down to 
the plains in order to find a crossing-place. But between 
those who live on the same side, communication is easy. 
They can come and go without hindrance, can mingle 
freely with their fellows. In other words, men and women 
of different types can establish contact with one another 
only in action, and only on condition of reciprocal good 
behaviour. Men and women of the same type are psycho- 
logically commensurable. Communication between them 
is, of course, facilitated by reciprocal good behaviour; but 
even when the behaviour is bad, even when they dislike 
and mistrust, they can understand one another. Cerebro- 
tonics who have had the same sort of education can come 
together on the intellectual plane. Viscerotonics will mingle 
in the loud and expansive good-fellowship which all of 
them enjoy. Somatotonics will appreciate each other's 
delight in muscular activity for its own sake. And there 
are also the smaller sub-divisions. Mathematicians will 
associate with other mathematicians. The musician speaks 
a language which all other musicians understand* People 
with the same kind of eccentric sexual habits meet on the 



common ground ot their particular aberration. (Thus, the 
freemasonry of homosexuality brings together men of the 
most diverse types, intraverted intellectuals and bargees, 
emotional viscerotonic people and people of somatotonic 
type, professional boxers and able-bodied seamen.) In a 
word, there will always be a tendency for birds of a feather 
to flock together. This is inevitable and right. What is 
not right is that flocking should be exclusively between 
birds of a feather. It is essential that society should be so 
arranged that there are opportunities for people of different 
types to co-operate. This, of course, will not prevent 
people of the same type from forming groups of their own. 
For it is fortunately possible for a human being to be a 
member of many groups simultaneously. Thus, a man may 
have a family and various sets of friends ; may be a member 
of a professional association, a friendly society, a golf club, 
a church, a scientific association. It is worth remarking in 
this context that, so far as the concrete facts of human 
experience are concerned, 'Society' is a meaningless abstrac- 
tion. A man has no direct experience of his relations with 
'Society'; he has experience only of his relations with 
limited groups of similar or dissimilar individuals. Social 
theory and practice have often gone astray, because they 
have started out from such abstractions as 'Society' instead 
of the facts of concrete experience relationships within 
groups and of groups with one another. It is a significant 
historical fact that political philosophies which make great 
play with such large, abstract words as 'Society' have 
generally been philosophies intended to justify a tyranny, 
either military-capitalist-feudal, like the tyranny of Hegel's 
Prussia and Hitler's Third Reich, or military-state-socialist- 
bureaucratic, like that of Russia after the death of Lenin. 
If we want to realize the good ends proposed by the 
prophets, we shall do well to talk less about the claims of 
' Society 9 (which have always, as a matter of brute fact, been 



identified with the claims of a ruling oligarchy) and more 
about the rights and duties of small co-operating groups. 

Some individuals have more general intelligence than 
others; some possess special abilities which others lack; 
certain men and women have a temperament which unfits 
them to be leaders or administrators; in others, on the 
contrary, the configuration of the 'humours' is such that 
they are admirably well adapted to take the direction of 
a common enterprise. The problem is, first, to see that 
round and square pegs get inco the holes that fit them, 
and, second, to prevent the born leader, when he is where 
his abilities entitle him to be, from exploiting his position 
in undesirable ways. 

In his book, A Chacun sa Chance^ Hyacinthe Dubreuil 
has pointed out that, where small groups are engaged on a 
particular job of work for which they are jointly responsible 
and for which they are rewarded, not as individuals, but as 
a group, the choice of a leader and the assignment of par- 
ticular tasks to each individual seldom present any special 
difficulty. Every man is a very shrewd judge of the pro- 
fessional competence of those who are in the same line of 
business as himself. Every man knows what fair dealing 
and consideration are, and generally knows well enough 
which person, in the particular group in which he happens 
at the moment to be working, is most likely to be con- 
siderate and fair as well as efficient. In most of the situa- 
tions of working life the exigencies of the job may be relied 
upon to induce men and women, who are working together 
in small, co-operating, responsible groups, to elect as group 
leader and organizer the person who is on the whole best 
fitted for the post. 1 Nor is there any great danger that 

1 DubreuiTs findings are confirmed by Mr. Peter Scott, who has 
had wide experience in organizing co-operative groups among the 
unemployed in South Wales. Such groups, he found, always tended 
to elect the best men as leaders. 



such a group leader will be tempted or, if tempted, be able 
to exploit his position to the detriment of his fellows. The 
problem of what may be called small-scale leadership is not 
a difficult one, except in societies of hierarchical pattern. In 
such societies (and where industrial organization is con- 
cerned, even the democratic states are hierarchical and 
dictatorial), the little leader is constantly tempted to revenge 
himself on those below him for all the indignities he has 
received from his superiors. Chickens in a poultry yard have 
a well-defined ' pecking order/ Hen A pecks hen B, who 
pecks C, who pecks D and so on. It is the same in human 
societies under the present dispensation. The tyrannical jack- 
in-office is to a great extent the product of tyranny in higher 
places. Big dictators breed little dictators, just as surely 
as big scorpions breed little scorpions, as big dung-beetles 
breed little dung-beetles. A society organized, not hier- 
archically, but on co-operative lines, and in which the principle 
of self-government is applied wherever possible, should be 
tolerably immune from the plague of small-scale tyranny. 
Bad leadership is undesirable at any social level. At the 
top, it may produce, not merely local discomfort, but 
general disaster. The body politic is subject to two grave 
diseases in the head, madness and imbecility. When people 
like Sulla or Napoleon assume the functions of the social 
brain, the community which they direct succumbs to some 
form of insanity. Most commonly the disease is paranoia; 
all the contemporary dictatorships, for example, suffer 
acutely from delusions of grandeur and of persecution. 
The alternative to mad King Stork is, only too frequently, 
a hopelessly inactive and deficient King Log who infects the 
body politic with his own imbecility. Imbeciles rise to 
power either by hereditary right or, if the system of choice 
is elective, because they possess certain demagogic talents, 
or very often, because it suits certain powerful interests 
within the community to have an imbecile in office. Most 


modern societies have abolished the hereditary principle in 
politics; idiots can no longer rule a country by right of 
blood. In the world of finance and industry, however, the 
hereditary principle is still admitted ; morons and drunkards 
may be company directors by divine right. In the world 
of politics, the chances of getting imbecile leaders under an 
elective system could be considerably reduced by applying 
to politicians a few of those tests for intellectual, physical 
and moral fitness which we apply to the candidates for 
almost every other kind of job. Imagine the outcry if 
hotel-keepers were to engage servants without demanding 
a * character* from their previous employers; or if sea 
captains were chosen from homes for inebriates; or if 
railway companies entrusted their trains to locomotive 
engineers with arteriosclerosis and prostate trouble; or if 
civil servants were appointed and doctors allowed to 
practise without passing an examination ! And yet, where 
the destinies of whole nations are at stake, we do not 
hesitate to entrust the direction of affairs to men of notori- 
ously bad character; to men sodden with alcohol; to men. 
so old and infirm that they can't do their work or even 
understand what it is about; to men without ability or 
even education. In practically every other sphere of 
activity we have accepted the principle that nobody may 
be admitted to hold responsible positions unless he 
can pass an examination, show a clean bill of health and 
produce satisfactory testimonials as to his moral character; 
and even then the office is given, in most cases, only on the 
condition that its holder shall relinquish it as soon as he 
reaches the threshold of old age. By applying these rudi- 
mentary precautions to politicians, we should be able to 
filter out of our public lite a great deal of that self-satisfied 
stupidity, that authoritative senile incompetence, that down- 
right dishonesty, which at present contaminates it 

To guard against the man of active, paranoid ambition, 



the potential King Stork of a political or industrial society, 
is more difficult than to guard against the half-wit, the 
dodderer and the petty crook* Political and legal checks 
to ambition, such as those contained in the American 
Constitution, are effective up to a certain point, but only 
up to a certain point. Legal checks and balances are merely 
institutionalized mistrust; and mistrust, however elabor- 
ately and ingeniously translated into terms of law, can 
never be an adequate foundation for social life. If people 
do not wish to play the political or industrial game accord- 

* J f w 

ing to the prescribed rules, no amount of surveillance will 
keep them from taking unfair advantages whenever they 
offer. ' Over the mountains,' runs the old song, ' and under 
the graves': avarice and the lust for power will 'find out 
the way* even more surely than love. They will find out 
the way for just so long as people are brought up to regard 
ambition as a virtue and the accumulation of money as 
men's most important business. At present, we choose to 
organize our political and economic life and to educate our 
children in such a way that we must inevitably suffer, as 
time goes on, more and more severely and chronically 
from the organized paranoia of dictatorship. But even if 
reforms were carried out to-day their full effects would not 
be felt until those brought up under the present dispensa- 
tion had either died or sunk into impotent old age. Mean- 
while, it may be asked, are there any changes in social 
organization which would make it more difficult for the 
ambitious men to impose their wills upon society? 

An examination system would rid our business and our 
politics of imbeciles and the more simple-minded types of 
crook. It would do little to keep out the individual of 
consuming ambition, and nothing at all, when he had passed 
his tests, to educate him into a more desirable, less greedily 
Napoleonic frame of mind. Something more is needed 
than examinations. Mere social machinery cannot give 



us the whole of that something more: but as much of it 
as social machinery can give could probably be provided 
by some institution akin to that of the Chartered Account- 
ants. A self-governing union of professional men, who 
have accepted certain rules, assumed certain responsibilities 
for one another, and can focus the whole force of their 
organized public opinion, in withering disapproval, upon 
any delinquent member of the society such an organiza- 
tion is one of the most powerfully educative social devices 
ever invented. Leadership will never be made expert and 
responsible until there is an institute of chartered business 
managers, another of chartered politicians and yet another 
of chartered administrators. (In England the higher civil 
service is almost a caste, having its own rules and standards, 
which it enforces by distributing that most gratifying form 
of praise, that most unbearable form of blame, the praise 
and blame of fellow professionals. To the fact that it 
approximates so nearly to an institute of chartered adminis- 
trators it owes its efficiency and its remarkable freedom 
from corruption.) 

Examinations and membership of a professional order 
would unquestionably do a great deal to raise the standard 
of political and economic leadership and to check the 
tendency of ambitious individuals to exceed due bounds. 
To extend the application of an old is always easier than 
to introduce a new and unfamiliar principle; and as the 
examination system is almost universally in use and the 
chartered professional organization widely known and 
respected, there should be no great difficulty in merely 
widening their field of applicability. Only in some such 
way as this can we minimize the social dangers inherent 
in the fact of individual inequality. 


Chapter XII 

"QROFESSIONAL educationists and, along with them, 
JT certain psychologists, have been inclined to exaggerate 
the efficacy of childhood training and the accidents of early 
life. The Jesuits used to boast that, if they were given the 
child at a sufficiently early age, they could answer for the 
man. Similarly, the Freudians attribute all men's spiritual 
ills to their experience during early childhood. But the 
Jesuits trained up free-thinkers and revolutionaries as well 
as docile believers. And many psychologists are turning 
away from the view that all neuroses are due to some crucial 
experience in infancy. * Treatment in accordance with the 
trauma theory is often/ writes Jung, * extremely harmful 
to the patient, for he is forced to search in his memory 
perhaps over a course of years for a hypothetical event 
in his childhood, while things of immediate importance are 
grossly neglected.* The truth is that a man is affected, not 
only by his past, but also by his present and what he fore- 
sees of the future. The conditioning process which takes 
place during childhood does not completely predetermine 
the behaviour of the man. To some extent, at any rate, 
he can be re-conditioned by the circumstances of his 
adolescent and adult life; to some extent his will is free, 
and, if he so chooses and knows the right way to set about 
it, he can re-condition himself. This re-conditioning may 
be in a desirable direction; it may equally well be in an 
undesirable one. For example, die conditioning which 
children now receive in nursery schools is generally 
excellent. That which they receive in more advanced 

M 177 


Schools is generally bad. In spite of the Jesuits and Freud, 
the bad conditioning during adolescence effectively neutral- 
izes the results of good conditioning during childhood. 
In his Anatomy of Frustration, Mr* H. G. Wells makes his 
hero comment upon the distressing difference between 'the 
charm, the alert intelligence, the fearless freedom of the 
modern child of six or seven and the slouching mental 
futility of the ordinary youth in his later teens/ The first 
is the product of the nursery school ; the second of the ele- 
mentary and secondary, the preparatory and public school 
We educate young children for freedom, intelligence, 
responsibility and voluntary co-operation; we educate 
older children for passive acceptance of tradition and for 
either dominance or subordination. This fact is sympto- 
matic of the uncertainty of purpose which prevails in the 
Western democracies. The old patriarchal tradition co- 
exists in our minds with a newer and quite incompatible 
hankering for freedom and democracy. In our enthusiasm 
for the second, we train up our young children to be free, 
self-governing individuals; having done which, we take 
fright and, remembering that our society is still hierarchical, 
still in great measure authoritarian, we devote all our 
energies to teaching them to be rulers on the one hand and, 
on the other, acquiescent subordinates. 

Here, in passing, it may be remarked that 'modern* 
schools may be too 'modern* by half. There is a danger 
that children may be given more freedom than they can 
profitably deal with, more responsibility than they desire 
or know how to take. To give children too much freedom 
and responsibility is to impose a strain which many of 
them find distressing and even exhausting. Exceptional 
cases apart, children like to have security, like to feel the 
support of a firm framework of moral laws and even of 
rules of polite conduct. Within such a firmly established 
framework there is plenty of room for a training in 


independence, responsibility and co-operation. The im* 
portant thing is to avoid extremes the extreme of too 
much liberty and responsibility on the one hand and, on 
the other, of too much restriction, above all too much 
restriction of the wrong sort. For the fixed framework 
may just as well be a bad code as a good one. Children 
may derive just as comforting a sense of security from the 
moral code, say, of militarism as from that of non- 
attachment. But the results of an upbringing within a 
framework of militaristic morality will be quite different 
from the results of an upbringing in the ethic of non- 

Coming back to the world as we know it, we have to 
ask ourselves an important question. Even if we were to 
prolong the nursery-school type of training training, that 
is to say, for self-government and responsible co-operation 
if we were to continue it far into adolescence, would we, 
in the existing world, succeed in making any conspicuous 
change for the better in society or the individuals composing 
it? Practical life is the most efficient of all teachers. Take 
adolescents trained for self-government and co-operation 
and turn them loose into a hierarchical, competitive, success- 
worshipping society: what will happen? Will the effects 
of the conditioning received in school survive? Probably 
not. Most likely, there will be a period of bewilderment 
and distress; then, in the majority of cases, readjustment 
to the circumstances of life. Which shows, yet once more, 
that life is a whole and that desirable changes in one 
department will not produce the results 
them, unless they are accompanied by 
all other departments. 

In the preceding paragraph I have/ 
education is not that infallible cur/ 
some enthusiasts have supposed it . 
can become such a cure only 



<good conditions in other departments of life. As usual it 
is not a question of simple cause and effect, but of complex 
interrelationship, of action and reaction. Good education 
will be fully effective only when there are good social 
conditions and, among individuals, good beliefs and feel- 
ings; but social conditions, and the beliefs and feelings of 
individuals will not be altogether satisfactory until there is 
good education. The problem of reform is the problem 
of breaking out of a vicious circle and of building up a 
virtuous one in its place. 

The time has now come when we must ask ourselves 
in what precisely a good education consists. In the first 
years and months of infancy education is mainly physi- 
ological; the child, to use the language of the kennel, is 
house-trained. In the past this seemed a trivial and un- 
savoury matter which it was at once unnecessary and 
indelicate to discuss. In the words of Uncle Toby Shandy, 
one wiped it up and said no more about it. Modern 
psychologists have discovered that the subject is by no 
means a trivial one and that, for the infant at least, excretion 
and the process of house-training are matters of the deepest 
concern. In this context I need mention only the work of 
the late Dr. Suttie, whose book, The Origins of Love and 
Hatred, contains an interesting chapter on the effects of 
early house-training upon the emotional life of human 
beings. These effects, it would seem, are generally bad; 
and he gives reasons for supposing that our emotional 
life would be much more serene if our training in cleanliness 
had not started so early. Messy children are a nuisance; 
but if, by allowing them to make their messes, we can 
guarantee that they shall grow up into gentle, unquarrel- 
some adults, free from what Suttie calls our * taboo on 
tenderness/ the nuisance will be very bearable. 

So much for the physiological education of infancy. 
We now come to the moral and intellectual education of 



later childhood. The two are, of course, inseparable; 
but it will be convenient to consider them one at a time. 
Let us begin by asking in what a desirable moral education 
consists. Our aim, let us recall, is to train up human beings 
for freedom, for justice, forpeace. How shall it be done? 
In his recent book, WTach Way to Peace? Bertrand Russell 
has written a significant paragraph on this subject. ' Schools/ 
he says, 'have very greatly improved during the present 
century, at any rate in the countries which have remained 
democratic. In the countries which have military dictator- 
ships, including Russia, there has been a great retrogression 
during the last ten years, involving a revival of strict 
discipline, implicit obedience, a ridiculously subservient 
behaviour towards teachers and passive rather than active 
methods of acquiring knowledge. All this is rightly held 
by the governments concerned to be a method of pro- 
ducing a militaristic mentality, at once obedient and 
domineering, cowardly and brutal. . . . From the practice 
of the despots, we can see that they agree with the 
advocates of "modern** education as regards the connec- 
tion between discipline in schools and the love of war in 
later life.' 

Dr. Maria Montessori has developed the same theme in 
a recent pamphlet: 'The child who has never learned to 
act alone, to direct his own actions, to govern his own will, 
grows into an adult who is easily led and must always lean 
upon others. The school child, being continually dis- 
couraged and scolded, ends by acquiring that mixture of 
distrust of his own powers and of fear, which is called 
shyness and which later, in the grown man, takes the form 
of discouragement and submissiveness, of incapacity to put 
up the slightest moral resistance. The obedience which 
is expected of a child both in the home and in the school 
an obedience admitting neither of reason nor of justice 
prepares the man to be docile to blind forces. The punish- 



merit, so common in schools, which consists in subjecting 
die culprit to public reprimand and is almost tantamount 
to the torture of the pillory, fills the soul with a crazy, 
unreasoning fear of public opinion, even an opinion 
manifestly unjust and raise. In the midst of these adapta- 
tions and many others which set up a permanent inferiority 
complex, is born the spirit of devotion not to say of 
idolatry to the condottieriy the leaders.' Dr. Montessori 
might have added that the inferiority complex often finds 
expression in compensatory brutality and cruelty. The 
traditional education is a training for life in a hierarchical, 
militaristic society, in which people are abjectly obedient 
to their superiors and inhuman to their inferiors. Each 
slave 'takes it out of* the slave below. 

In the light of these two citations, we are able to under- 
stand more clearly why history should have taken the course 
it actually has taken in recent years. The intensification of 
militarism and nationalism, the rise of dictatorships, the 
spread of authoritarian rule at the expense of democratic 
government these are phenomena which, like all other 
events in human history, have a variety of interacting causes. 
Most conspicuous among these, of course, are the economic 
and political causes. But these do not stand alone. There 
are also educational and psychological causes. Among 
these must be reckoned the fact that, for the last sixty years, 
all children have been subjected to the strict, authoritarian 
discipline of state schools. In recent European history, such 
a thing has never happened before. At certain periods, it 
is true, and in certain classes of society, the discipline 
imposed within the family was exceedingly strict. For 
example, the seventeenth-century Puritan family was 
governed almost as arbitrarily and as harshly as the family 
of the Roman farmer or the Japanese Samurai. Samurai 
and Roman had the same end in view to train up children 
in the military virtues, so that they should become good 



soldiers. The Puritan had a religious end in view; he 
was imitating Jehovah; he was breaking his children's will 
because St. Augustine and Calvin had taught him that that 
will was essentially evil. And yet, though the ends were 
different, the results of the Puritan's educational system 
were the same as those attained by the essentially similar 
system devised by the Roman and the Samurai for quite 
another end. His children became first-rate soldiers; and 
when they were not called upon to go to war, they exhibited 
their militaristic qualities in the field of commerce and 
industry, becoming (as Tawney and Weber have shown) 
the first and almost the most ruthless of the capitalists. 
The Puritans, I repeat, were strict disciplinarians within 
the family. But not all the population was composed of 
Puritans. When most children were brought up within 
the family, a great many experienced only kindness and 
consideration. In other cases spasmodic brutality alternated 
with spasmodic affection. In yet others, no doubt, parents 
would have liked to impose a strict Roman or Hebrew 
discipline, but were too lazy to do so systematically, so 
that the child came through almost unscathed. It is a 
highly significant fact that the members of the upper 
classes, who, as children had been under tutors or sent to 
school, were always the actively militaristic element in 
mediaeval and early modern society. The common people 
were seldom spontaneously bellicose. War and imperialistic 
brigandage were the preoccupation of their masters 
men who had enjoyed the privilege, during boyhood, 
of being bulHed by some sharp-tongued, hard-hitting 

In the first half of the nineteenth century, secondary 
education for the middle classes was enormously extended; 
in the second half, primary education was made universally 
compulsory. For die first time, all children were subjected 
to strict, systematic, unremitting discipline the kind of 


discipline that 'produces a militaristic mentality, at once 
obedient and domineering. 9 The members of the middle 
and upper classes still undergo, in most countries, a longer 
period of education than do the poor. This is why the 
members of the middle* and upper classes are still, on the 
whole, more bellicose than the members of the working 
class. (Such organizations as the Peace Pledge Union 
have more adherents among the poor than among the 
rich.) Even the poor, however, are now given several 
years of authoritarian discipline. The decline of democracy 
has coincided exactly with the rise to manhood and political 
power of the second generation of the compulsorily 
educated proletariat. This is no fortuitous coincidence. 
By 1920 all the Europeans who had escaped compulsory 
primary education were either dead or impotently old. 
The masses had gone through, first, six or seven years 
of drilling in school, then, in most countries, anything 
from one to three years of conscription, and finally the 
four years of the war. Enough military discipline to make 
them 'at once obedient and domineering.' The most 
actively domineering ones climbed to the top, the rest 
obeyed and were given, as a reward, the privilege 
of bullying those beneath them in the new political 

The early educational reformers believed that universal 
primary and, if possible, secondary education would free 
the world from its chains and make it 'safe for democracy.' 
If it has not done so if, on the contrary, it has merely 
prepared the world for dictatorship and universal war 
the reason is extremely simple. You cannot reach a given 
historical objective by walking in the opposite direction. 
If your goal is liberty and democracy, then you must 
teach people the arts of being free and of governing them- 
selves. If you teach them instead the arts of bullying 
and passive obedience, then you will not achieve the 



liberty and democracy at which you are aiming. Good 
ends cannot be achieved by inappropriate means. The 
truth is infinitely obvious. Nevertheless we refuse to act 
upon it. That is why we find ourselves in our present 

The two types of education education for freedom and 
responsibility, education for bullying and subordination 
coexist in die democracies of the West, where nursery 
schools belong to the first, and most other schools to the 
second type. In Fascist countries, not even nursery schools 
may belong to the first type. Significantly enough, the 
Montessori Society of Germany was dissolved by the 
political police in 1935; and, in July 1936, Mussolini's 
Minister of Education decreed the cessation of all official 
Montessori activities in Italy. In the days of Lenin, 
Russian education was based, at every stage, upon principles 
essentially similar to those enunciated by Dr. Montessori. 
In the manifestos and decrees published shortly after 
Lenin's seizure of power one may read such phrases as 
these. 'Utilization of a system of marks for estimating 
the knowledge and conduct of the pupil is abolished. . . . 
Distribution of medals and insignia is abolished. . . . The 
old form of discipline which corrupts the entire life of 
the school and die untrammelled development of the 
personality of the child, cannot be maintained in the 
schools of labour. The progress of labour itself develops 
this internal discipline without which collective and rational 
work is unimaginable. ... All punishment in schools is 
forbidden. ... All examinations are abolished. . . . The 
wearing of school uniform is abolished/ 

On September 4th, 1935, a Decree on Academic Reform 
was issued by the Stalin Government. This decree con- 
tained, among others, the following orders: 'Instruct a 
commission ... to elaborate a draft of a ruling for every 
type of school. The ruling must have a categoric and 



absolutely obligatory character for pupils as well as for 
teachers. This ruling must be the fundamental document 
. . . which strictly establishes the regime of studies and the 
basis for order in the school . . . Underlying the ruling 
on the conduct of pupils is to be placed a strict and 
conscientious application of discipline. ... In the personal 
record there will be entered for the entire duration of his 
studies the marks of the pupil for every quarter, his prizes 
and his punishments. ... A special apparatus of Communist 
Youth organizers is to be installed for the surveillance of 
the pupil inside and outside of school. They are to watch 
over the morality and the state of mind of the pupils. . . . 
Establish a single form of dress for the pupils of the 
primary, semi-secondary and secondary schools, this 
uniform to be introduced, to begin with, in 1936 in the 
schools of Moscow/ 

This decree was followed by another, issued in February 
1937, ordering that the existing organizations for giving 
military training to young children (from eight years old 
upwards) should be strengthened and extended. Such 
systems of infantile conscription already exist in the 
Fascist countries and, if the threat of war persists, will 
doubtless soon be imposed upon the democracies of the 

r Any change for the worse in educational methods means 
I a change for the worse in the mentality of millions of 
1 human beings during their whole lifetime. Early con- 
| ditioning, as I have pointed out, does not irrevocably and 
; completely determine adult behaviour; but it does' un- 
questionably make it difficult for individuals to think, feel 
and act otherwise than as they have been taught to do in 
childhood. Where social conditions are in harmony with 
the prevailing system of education, the task of getting 
' outside the circle of early conditioning may be almost 
} insuperably difficult Stalin has made it practically certain 

1 86 


that, for the next thirty or forty years, the 
Russian philosophy of life shall be essentially militaristic. 

Discipline is not the only instrument of character training. 
One of the major psychological discoveries of modern times 
was the discovery that the play, not only of small children, 
but (even more significantly) of adolescents and adults could 
be turned to educational purposes. Partly by accident, 
partly by subtle and profound design, English educators 
of the second half of the nineteenth century evolved the 
idea of organizing sport for the purpose of training the 
character of their pupils. At Rugby, during Tom Brown's 
schooldays, there were no organized games. Dr. Arnold 
was too whole-heartedly a low-church social reformer, too 
serious-minded a student of Old Testament history, to 
pay much attention to a matter seemingly so trivial as 
his boys' amusements. A generation later, cricket and 
football were compulsory in every English Public School, 
and organized sport was being used more and more 
consciously as a means of shaping the character of the 
English gentleman. 

Like every other instrument that man has invented, 
sport can be used either for good or for evil purposes. 
Used well, it can teach endurance and courage, a sense of 
fair play and a respect for rules, co-ordinated effort and 
the subordination of personal interests to those of the 
group. Used badly, it can encourage personal vanity and 
group vanity, greedy desire for victory and hatred for 
rivals, an intolerant esprit de corps and contempt for people 
who are beyond a certain arbitrarily selected pale. In 
either case sport inculcates responsible co-operation; but 
when it is used badly the co-operation is for undesirable 
ends and the result upon the individual character is an 
increase of attachment; when it is used well, the character 
is modified in the direction of non-attachment. Sport can 
be either a preparation for war or, in some measure, a 



substitute for war; a trainer either of potential war-mongers 
o* of potential peace-lovers ; an educative influence forming 
either militarists or men who will be ready and able to apply 
the principles of pacifism in every activity of life. It is 
for us to choose which pan the organized amusements of 
children and adults shall play. In the dictatorial countries 
the choice has been made, consciously and without com- 
promise. Sport there is definitely a preparation for war 
doubly a preparation. It is used, first of all, to prepare 
children for die term of military slavery which they will 
have to serve when they come of age to train them in 
habits of endurance, courage, and co-ordinated effort, and 
to cultivate that esprit de corps, that group-vanity and 
group-pride which are the very foundations of the character 
of a good soldier. In the second place, it is used as an 
instrument of nationalistic propaganda. Football matches 
with teams belonging to foreign countries are treated as 
matters of national prestige; victory is hailed as a triumph 
over an enemy, a sign of racial or national superiority; 
a defeat is put down to foul play and treated almost as a 
casus belli. Optimistic theorists count sport as a bond 
between nations. In the present state of nationalistic feeling 
it is only another cause of international misunderstanding. 
The battles waged on the football field and the race-track 
are merely preliminaries to, and even contributory causes 
of, more serious contests. In a world that has no common 
religion or philosophy of life, but where every national 
group practises its own private idolatry, international 
I football matches and athletic contests can do almost 
(nothing but harm. 

The choice of the dictators has been, as I have said, 
definite and uncompromising. They have decided that 
sport shall be used above all as a preparation for war. 
In the democratic countries we are, as usual, of two minds. 
The idea of using sport solely as a preparation for war 



seems to us shocking; at the same time we cannot bring 
ourselves to use it, consciously and consistently, as an 
instrument for training active peace-lovers. To some 
extent we still use sport as a training for militarists. 'The 
battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton/ 
and it was on these and a score or two of other school 
playgrounds that the Indian Empire was conquered and 
held down. The Amritsar massacre is a genuine, hall- 
marked product of the prefectorial system and compulsory 
cricket. 'His captain's hand on his shoulder smote: "Play 
up, and play the game."' The game was played in that 
high-walled Jalianwallabagh to the tune of I forget how 
many hundreds of dead and wounded. But if India was 
conquered and is now held down on the playing fields of 
the English Public Schools, it is also administered there, 
and administered with a considerable degree of justice and 
incorruptibility. It is even in process (very gradually and 
reluctantly, it is true) of being liberated on those same 
fields. In the half-democracy of modern England, sport 
is not used solely as a preparation for war and the fostering 
of group-vanity and group-pride; it is also used for teach- 
ing boys to behave with genuine decency in other words, 
as a training in non-attachment. In the world as it is at 
present, we cannot afford to be of two minds. Either we 
must make use of sport (and in general the whole educational 
system) as a device for training up non-attached, non- 
militaristic men and women; or else, under the urgent 
threat of war, we must make up our minds to out- 
Prussianize the Nazis and, on the playing fields of Eton 
and the other schools, prepare for the winning of future 
Waterloos. The first alternative involves great risk, but 
may lead, not only the English, but the whole world besides, 
out of the valley of destruction in which the human race 
is now precariously living. The second alternative can 
lead only to the worsening of international relations and 



ultimately to general catastrophe. Unhappily, it is towards 
th'e second alternative that the rulers of England now seem 
to be inclining. 

I have spoken hitherto as though there were only one 
type of sound education. But we have seen, in the chapter 
on Inequality, that human beings are of several different 
types. This being so, is it not a mistake to prescribe one 
system of character-training? Should there not be several 
systems? The answer to these questions is at once yes 
and no. It is not a mistake to prescribe only one system 
of character-training, because (to repeat the words used in 
an earlier chapter) it is always in men's power to move 
away from the territories in which psychological divisions 
exist, because it is always possible for them, if they so 
desire, to find in the common world of action the site 
for a broad, substantial bridge connecting even the most 
completely incommensurable of psychological universes. 
Character-training through self-government, through re- 
sponsible co-operation, through die voluntarily accepted 
discipline of games, is something which goes on in that 
common world of action, in which alone it is possible 
for individuals of different psychological types to come 
together. To prescribe one fundamental technique of 
character-training is therefore no mistake. On the other 
hand it would obviously be foolish not to adapt the one 
fundamental technique to the different types of individual. 
To discuss the nature of these variations would take a 
long time and, since the matter is not one of fundamental 
importance, I will proceed at once to a consideration of 
my next topic, which is education as instruction. 

In most of the civilized countries of the West primary 
education has been universal and compulsory for sixty years 
and more. Secondary and higher education have also been 
made available less freely in England than in America, 
in France and Italy than in Germany, but everywhere to 



very considerable numbers of young people and adults. 
When we compare the high hopes entertained by the early 
advocates of universal education with the results actually 
achieved after two generations of intensive and extensive 
teaching, we cannot fail to be somewhat discouraged. 
Millions of children have passed thousands of millions of 
hours under schoolroom discipline, reading the Bible, 
listening to pi-jaws and the peoples of the world are 
preparing for mutual slaughter more busily and more 
scientifically than ever before; human! tarianism is visibly 
declining; the idolatrous worship of strong men is on 
the increase; international politics are conducted with a 
degree of brutal cynicism unknown since the days of Pope 
Alexander VI and Cesare Borgia, From moral we pass to 
intellectual education. The best that has been thought and 
said has been bawled by millions of pedagogues, millions 
of times, into millions of little ears and the yellow press, 
the tabloids, the grands journaux d 9 information circulate by 
scores of millions every morning and evening of the year; 
each month the pulp magazines offer to millions of readers 
their quota of true confessions, film fun, spicy detective 
stories, hot mysteries; all day long in the movie palaces 
millions of feet of imbecile and morally squalid film are 
unrolled before a succession of audiences; from a thousand 
transmitting stations streams of music (mostly bad) and 
political propaganda (mostly false and malevolent) are 
poured out, for eighteen hours out of the twenty-four, 
into the contaminated ether. Instruments of marvellous 
ingenuity and power on the one hand; and, on the other, 
ways of using those instruments which are either idiotic, 
or criminal, or both together. Such are the moral and 
intellectual fruits of our system of education. It is time 
that something was done to change the nature of the tree 
that bears these fruits. 

In earlier paragraphs I have indicated what must be done 



if we wish to breed up a race of non-attached, actively 
peace-loving men and women. We now have to consider 
the best methods for fostering intelligence and imparting 

At the present time education-as-instruction assumes 
one of two forms academic (or liberal) education and 
technical education. Academic education is supposed to 
do two things for those who are subjected to it; it is 
supposed, first of all, to be a gymnastic, by means of which 
they will be able to develop all the faculties of their minds, 
from the power of logical analysis to that of aesthetic 
appreciation; and, in die second place, it is supposed to 
provide young people with a framework of historical, logical 
and physico-chemico-biological relationships, within which 
any particular piece of information acquired in later life 
may find its proper and significant place. Technical 
education, on the other hand, aims merely at practical 
results and is supposed to give young people proficiency 
in some particular trade or profession. 

Recent investigations (for example, that which was 
carried out a few years ago by the Scottish education 
authorities) have given statistical form and content to the 
conclusions which personal experience had long since 
forced upon the practising teacher: namely, that academic 
education (although grudgingly dispensed, at any rate in 
its secondary and higher forms) is given to large numbers 
of boys and girls who are unable to derive much profit 
from it. To some extent, no doubt, this failure to profit 
by academic education is due to the defects of our teaching 
system or to the shortcomings of individual teachers. 
(Teaching is an art, not a science; bad artists have always 
greatly outnumbered the good.) However, when all allow- 
ances have been made, it seems perfectly clear that very 
many young people probably an absolute majority of 
them are congenitally incapable of receiving what academic 



education has to offer. At the same time it is no less clear 
that many of those who are able to stay the course of an 
academic education emerge from the ordeal either as parrots, 
gabbling remembered formulas which they do not really 
understand ; or, if they do understand, as specialists, know- 
ing everything about one subject and taking no interest in 
anything else; or, finally, as intellectuals, theoretically 
knowledgeable about everything, but hopelessly inept in 
the affairs of ordinary life. Something analogous happens 
to the pupils of technical schools. They come out into the 
world, highly expert in their particular job, but knowing 
very little about anything else and having no integrating 
principle in terms of which they can arrange and give 
significance to such knowledge as they may subsequently 

Can these defects in our educational system be remedied? 
I think they can. We must begin by the frankest, the most 
objectively scientific acceptance of the fact that human 
beings belong to different types. Congenitally, the cere- 
brotonic is not such a 'good mixer* as the viscerotonic, 
who may be so deeply absorbed in his rich emotional life 
as to be unwilling to concern himself with the intellectual 
pursuits at which the cerebrotonic excels. Again, the 
somatotonic is predestined by his psycho-physical make-up 
to be more interested in, and more proficient at, muscular 
than intellectual or emotional activity. Or take particular 
talents; these, it would seem, are often given and can be 
developed only at the expense of other talents. (For 
example, good mathematicians are often musical, but very 
rarely have any appreciation of the visual arts.) Then 
there is the problem still to some extent the subject of 
controversy of the degrees of intelligence. Intelligence 
tests have been improved in recent years; but they will 
become fully significant only when the results of the tests 
are given in their proper context. The affirmation that 

H 193 


A's intelligence quotient is higher than B's tells us, as it 
st&nds, very little; if it is to be really significant, we must 
know a number of other facts whether, for example, 
A and B belong to the same psycho-physical type or to 
different types, whether they approximate to the pure type 
or are greatly mixed. And so on. The intelligence test, 
then, is an imperfect instrument; but, imperfect as it is, 
it has done something to give statistical form and content 
to the universally held conviction that some people are 
stupider than others. Having accepted the fact that human 
beings belong to different types, are gifted with different 
talents and have different degrees of intelligence, we must 

his or her capacities to their utmost. In a rather crude 
and inefficient way, this is what we are attempting to do 
even now. Clever boys pass examinations and are given 
scholarships that take them from primary to secondary 
schools and from secondary schools to universities. Handy 
boys are apprenticed or sent to technical schools to learn 
some skilled trade. And so on. A rough and ready 
system a good deal rougher than readier. Its defects 
are twofold. First, the methods employed for choosing 
the candidates for the different kinds of education are far 
from satisfactory. And, second, the kinds of education to 
which successful candidates are subjected are even less 
satisfactory than the methods of choice. 

About the examination system it is unnecessary for me 
to speak at length. Most educators agree in theory that 
a single crucial examination does not provide the best test 
of a person's ability. Many of them have even passed from 
theory to practice and are giving up the single, crucial 
examination in favour of a series of periodical tests of 
knowledge and intelligence and the reports, over a span 
of years, of teachers and inspectors. Supplemented by an 
expert grading in terms of psycho-physical type, the second 



method of choosing candidates for the various kinds of 
education should prove quite satisfactory* 

We must now consider the various kinds of education 
to which (according to their type) young people should 
be subjected. 

We have seen that both the existing kinds of education, 
Technical as well as academic or liberal, are unsatisfactory. 
The problem before us is this: to amend them in such a 
way that technical education shall become more liberal, 
and academic education a more adequate preparation for 
everyday life in a society which is to be changed for 
the better. 

A liberal education is supposed to provide, first, a 
gymnastic, second, a frame of reference. In other words, 
it is supposed to be simultaneously a device for fostering 
intelligence and the source of a principle of integration. 

In academic education as we know it to-day, the principle 
of integration is mainly scientific and historical. We can 
put the matter in another way and say that the frame of 
reference is logical and factual, and that the facts with 
which the logical intellect is trained to deal are mainly 
facts about the material universe and about humanity as 
a part of the material universe. (History, as taught in 
schools and colleges, is of two kinds : non-scientific history, 
which is merely a branch of nationalistic propaganda, and 
scientific history, which is almost a branch of physics. 
Scientific historians treat facts about human beings as 
though they were facts about the material universe. They 
write about men as though men were gas molecules that 
could be dealt with most effectively in terms of the law 
of averages.) 

The man who goes through a course of our academic 
education may come out a parrot. In this case we say 
that the education has failed of its purpose. Or he may 
come out as an efficient specialist. In this case we say that 


the. education has been only partially successful. Or else 
(and when this happens we think that education has worked 
very successfully) he may emerge as an intellectual that 
is to say, a person who has learned to establish relations 
between the different elements of his sum of knowledge, 
one who possesses a coherent system of relationships into 
which he can fit all such new items of information as he 
may pick up in the course of his life. We can define this 
system of relationships in terms of what is known and 
say (what has been said above) that it is predominantly 
scientific and historical, logical and factual. We can also 
define it in terms of the knower and say that it is pre- 
dominantly cognitive, not affective or conative. 

The parrot repeats, but does not understand ; the narrow 
specialist understands, but understands only his speciality; 
the accomplished intellectual understands the relations sub- 
siding between many sectors of apprehended reality, but 
does so only theoretically. He knows, but is fired by no 
desire to act upon his knowledge and has received no 
training in such action. We see, then, that even the man 
whom we are accustomed to regard as the successful 
product of our academic education is an unsatisfactory 

To the pupils of our technical schools, no principle of 
integration is given. Their teachers provide them with no 
frame of reference, no coherent system of relationships. 
They are taught a job and no more equipped with a 
technique and just so much of the theory lying behind that 
particular technique as will make them efficient workers. 
They emerge into the world wholly unprepared to deal in 
an intelligent way with the facts of experience. The web 
of understanding which, in the mind of the accomplished 
intellectual, connects the atom with the spiral nebula and 
both with this morning's breakfast, the music of Bach, the 
pottery of neolithic China, what you will this network 



of cognitive relationships is all but completely lacking. 
Bits of information exist for the technically educated man, 
not as parts of one vast continuum, but in isolation, like 
so many stars dotted about in a gulf of black incom- 
prehension. Or if there is a continuum, the chances are 
that it will be composed of ideas borrowed from a Bronze- 
Age theology, from anecdotal history, from philosophy as 
taught in the newspaper and the films. The successful 
product of technical education is as unsatisfactory as the 
successful product of academic education. 

What is the remedy for this state of things? Some 
people have suggested that technical education should be 
liberalized, like academic education, in terms of general 
knowledge above all, knowledge of scientific facts and 
theories. They have suggested that technicians should 
be given a principle of integration fundamentally similar 
to that employed by the intellectual a principle of 
integration which the knower feels to be mainly cognitive 
and which, defined in terms of the known, is mainly 

There are two good reasons for thinking that this 
suggestion is unsound. First of all, the great majority of 
those who undergo technical education are incapable of 
using this principle of integration and, being incapable 
of using it, are therefore uninterested in it. Even among 
those who go through a course of our academic education, 
only a few emerge as accomplished intellectuals. Most of 
them emerge as parrots or specialists. (A good proportion 
of these return to the schools as teachers and proceed to 
train up other parrots and specialists.) Minds that delight 
in what may be called large-scale knowledge know- 
ledge, that is to say, of the relations subsisting between 
things and events widely separated in space or time and 
seemingly irrelevant one to another are rare. Academic 
education is supposed to impart such knowledge and to 



infect men and women with the desire to possess it; but 
in actual fact few are so infected and few go out into the 
world possessing it. To provide people with a principle 
of integration which it is almost certain that they will not 
wish or be able to use is mere foolishness. 

Nor is this all. We have seen that even the accomplished 
intellectual is a for from satisfactory person. His involve- 
ment with the world is only cognitive, not affective nor 
conative. Moreover, the framework into which he fits his 
experience is the framework of the natural sciences and of 
history treated as though it too were one of the natural 
sciences. He is concerned mainly with the material universe 
and with humanity as a part of the material universe. He is 
not concerned with humanity as human, as potentially more 
than human. One of the results of this preoccupation with 
the material universe is that, on the rare occasions when 
the intellectual does become affectively and conatively 
involved with the world of human reality, he tends to 
exhibit a curious impatience which easily degenerates into 
ruthlessness. Thinking of human beings 'scientifically,' 
as parts of the material universe, he doesn't see why they 
shouldn't be handled as other parts of the material universe 
are handled dumped here, like coal or sand, made to 
flow there, like water, 'liquidated* (the Russians preserve 
the vocabulary of the intellectuals who prepared and made 
their revolution), like so much ice over a fire. 

Technical education is without a principle of integration; 
academic education makes use of a principle that integrates 
only on the cognitive plane, only in terms of a natural 
science preoccupied with the laws of the material universe. 
What is needed is another principle of integration a prin- 
ciple which the technicians and die unsuccessful academics 
will be congeni tally capable of using; a principle that will 
co-ordinate the scattered fragments, die island universes of 
specialized or merely professional knowledge; a principle 



that will supplement the scicntifico-historical frame of refer- 
ence at present used by intellectuals, that will help, perhaps, 
to transform them from mere spectators of the human scene 
into intelligent participants. 

What should be die nature of this new principle of 
integration? The answer seems clear enough, at any rate 
in its main outlines : it should be psychological and ethical. 
Within the new frame of reference, coordination of know- 
ledge and experience would be made in human terms; the 
network of significant relations would be, not material, 
but psychological; not indifferent to values, but moral; 
not merely cognitive, but also affective and conative. 

A concrete example will make my meaning clear. Here 
is a young man in process of being trained in engineering 
and practical mechanics. Under the existing dispensation, 
the chances are that he wiU come out into the world pro- 
foundly ignorant of everything but his speciality. His 
education will have failed to equip him with any principle 
by means of which he can integrate his future experiences 
and accessions of knowledge. Educationists trained up 
in the existing academic schools believe that it wiH be 
possible to liberalize his education by somehow leading 
him from the practical and the particular to general scientific 
theory. Give him, they say, a mastery of general scientific 
theory, and he will have a principle by means of which he 
will be able to integrate all his knowledge and experience. 
In the abstract this scheme seems good enough; but in 
practice it just doesn't work. For the probability is that 
the young man will not be interested in general scientific 
theory, that he will have neither die wish nor die ability 
to integrate his experience and his knowledge in terms of 
the laws of the material universe. As a matter of brute 
historical fact, the great advances in scientific theory have 
very seldom been made by skilled artisans. The practical 
man who knows his job is interested in the job and perhaps 



in Just as much of the theory underlying his practice as 
will enable him to do the job better. Very rarely does he 
develop into the scientist, and few indeed are the fruitful 
generalizations which we owe to such men. In general, 
die advances in scientific theory have been made by men 
of another type men who did not concern themselves 
professionally with technical problems, but who merely 
looked at them as outsiders and then proceeded to generalize 
and rationalize what was merely particular and empirical. 
Between the practical man and the man who is interested 
in scientific theories of the universe at large a gulf is fixed. 
They belong to different types. The attempt to liberalize 
technical education by means of the principle which intel- 
lectuals use to integrate their experience is foredoomed 
to failure. 

Man is the only subject in which, whatever their type 
or the degree of their ability, all men are interested. The 
future engineer may be unable and unwilling to go far in 
the study of the laws of the material universe. There will 
be no difficulty, however, in getting him to take an interest 
in human affairs. It is, therefore, in terms of human affairs 
that his technical education can best be liberalized. There 
would be no difficulty in integrating any technical subject 
into a comprehensive scheme of relations within our human, 
ethico-psychological framework. The technical course 
would be accompanied by a course explaining the effects, 
as measured in terms of good and evil, well-being and 
suffering, of the technique in question. Our hypothetical 
young man would learn, not only to be a mechanician, 
but also to understand the ways in which machinery 
affects, has affected and is likely to affect, the lives of 
men and women. He could begin with the effects of 
machinery upon the individual such effects as are dis- 
cussed, for example, in Stuart Chase's essay in contemporary 
history, Men and Machines, or in the Hammonds' account 



of the industrial revolution. Next, the broader social effects 
could be studied the transformation of technically back- 
ward countries, the destruction of old-established trades, 
the creation of new industries* In these and similar ways 
a complete network of relationships could be created in 
the student's mind, a network binding together things 
seemingly as irrelevant to one another as down-draught 
carburetters and the education of children in New Mexico, 
aluminium alloys and the slaughter of Abyssinians and 
Spaniards, viscose fibres and the ruin of peasants in Japan 
and the Rhone Valley. A similar frame of psychological, 
sociological and ethical reference could be used, not indejed 
to replace, but to supplement the frame of scientific refer- 
ence used in academic education. The technician would 
integrate his experience and special knowledge in human 
terms only; the intellectual would integrate in terms of the 
non-human material universe as well as of the human 
world. Both educations would thus be made genuinely 
liberal liberal in the academic sense, because even the 
technical student would be given a wide range of knowledge 
and a principle of integration; liberal also in the political 
sense, because it would be hard indeed to receive such an 
education and not emerge with a wider range of sympathy, 
a keener desire to act, 

It would be impossible, in the space at my disposal, to 
give an account of all the hopeful experiments in education 
undertaken in recent years. The most I can do is to mention 
a few of the more outstanding essays in the liberalization of 
our existing system. Of Dr. Montessori's work for young 
children and of the reasons why we have hesitated to apply 
her methods to the teaching of adolescents, I have already 
spoken. It is true, as Mr. Russell points out in the passage 
I have quoted above, that, in the democratic countries, our 
hesitation has not amounted to a complete refusal to apply 
the Montessori principles. But the applications have been 



partial and have almost always been made in an intrinsically 
un-Montessorian context. Consider, by way of example, 
the English Public Schools. Within a fixed framework, 
their pupils are in a measure self-governing. Unhappily the 
rules, customs and loyalties which constitute the support- 
ing framework are the rules, customs and loyalties of a hier- 
archical, competitive, imperialistic society. Such training 
in self-government and self-teaching as die young people 
receive serves merely to make them more efficient and enter- 
prising members of this intrinsically undesirable society. 
Something similar takes place in an army preparing for 
war in modern conditions. The old-fashioned drill, by 
means of which soldiers were conditioned to overcome 
fear, cultivate rage and blindly obey their superiors, is an 
inadequate training for men who are to fight with modern 
weapons. The mechanization of war has made necessary a 
new kind of training. The soldier has to be educated to 
co-operate with small groups of his fellows, to make quick 
decisions, to use his judgment. Tennyson's advice to 
soldiers was good enough in the eighteen-fifties. But for 
the crew of a tank or a motorized machine-gun unit, doing 
and dying is not sufficient; they are also required to reason 
why. Within the framework of the rules, customs and 
loyalties of militarism, soldiers are taught to use their 
intelligence and act upon their own initiative. To this 
extent Montessori principles have been adopted even in 
the army. But, under the present dispensation, the partially 
self-governing and self-teaching soldier is not being trained 
for freedom and justice any more than is his younger 
brother, the partially self-governing and self-teaching 

A particularly hopeful attempt to enlarge the scope and 
humanize the character of academic education was made, 
in the years immediately following the War, by Dr. A. E. 
Morgan (subsequently director of the Tennessee Valley 



Authority) at Antioch College. Under the educational 
dispensation developed by Dr. Morgan, periods of study, 
as has been noted earlier, are alternated with periods of 
labour in the factory, the office, the farm even the prison 
and the asylum. Three months of theory are supplemented 
and illustrated by three months of practice. The intellectual 
is taught to make use of a frame of human reference as well 
as a frame of natural-scientific and historical reference 
and taught, what is more, in the most effective of all 
possible ways, in terms of physical contact with actual 
samples of human reality. His principle of integration is 
not merely cognitive; thanks to an educational system 
which compels him to take part in many different kinds of 
practical work, it is also conative and affective. 1 

A system of education somewhat similar to that developed 
at Antioch is used in the schools attached to factories in 
Soviet Russia. All such systems are but the modern ex- 
tensions and systematizations of the traditional Hebrew 
system of education. 'He who does not teach his son a 
trade/ so it is written in the Talmud, 'virtually teaches 
him to steal/ St. Paul was not only a scholar; he was 
also a tent-maker. The ideal of the scholar and the gentle- 
man originated among the slave-owning philosophers of 
Athens and Ionia. It is one of the ironies of history that 
the modern world should have taken over from the Hebrews 
all that was worst in their cultural heritage their ferocious 
Bronze-Age literature; their paeans in praise of war; their 
tales of divinely inspired slaughter and sanctified treachery; 
their primitive belief in a personal, despotic and passionately 
unscrupulous God; their low, Samuel-Smilesian notion 
that virtue deserves a reward in cash and social position. 
It is, I repeat, one of the ironies of history that we should 

1 Note in this context the use of 'occupational therapy' in menta) 
disease. There are certain forms of mental disease for which hand- 
work is the best cure. 



hgve taken over all this and have rejected the admirably 
sensible rabbinical tradition of an all-round education, at 
once academic and technical, in favour of the narrow and 
immoral ideal of the Hellenic slavers. 

To perfect the Antioch system, it would probably be 
necessary to extend its provisions from the student to the 
teaching body. The fossil professor is a familiar object 
to those who have rambled through university towns. 
The onset of petrifaction might be delayed if teachers 
were given periodically, not merely sabbatical, but also 
non-sabbatical years years during which they would have 
to work at some job entirely unconnected with the academic 

A good deal of attention has been paid in recent years 
to the education of the emotions through the arts. In many 
schools and colleges, music, * dramatics/ poetry and the 
visual arts are used more or less systematically as a device 
for widening consciousness and imparting to the flow of 
emotion a desirable direction. 

Music, for example, may be used to teach a number of 
valuable lessons. When they listen to a piece of good 
music, people of limited abiKty are given the opportunity 
of actually experiencing the thought- and feeling-processes 
of a man of outstanding intellectual power and exceptional 
insight. (This applies, of course, to all the arts; but there 
is reason to believe that more people are able to participate, 
and participate more intensely, in the experience of the 
music-maker than in that of the painter, say, or the 
architect, or perhaps even the imaginative writer.) The 
finest works of art are precious, among other reasons, 
because they make it possible for us to know, if only 
imperfectly and for a little while, what it actually feels like 
to think subtly and feel nobly. 

Music also serves to teach a very valuable kind of 
emotional co-operation. Singing and playing instruments 



together, people learn, not only to perform complicated 
actions requiring great muscular skill and the mind's entire 
attention, but also to feel in harmony, to be united in a 
shared emotion. 

Coming next to literature, we see that the acting of plays 
can also be used for the purpose of emotional training. 
By playing the part of a character who is either very like 
or very unlike himself, a person can be made aware of his 
own nature and of his relations with others. To some 
extent, it may be, the watching of plays can serve the same 
purpose. We must, however, be on our guard against 
attributing to drama educative virtues which, at any rate 
in its present form, it certainly does not possess. In 
relation to the modern play or film, it is sheer nonsense 
to talk about the Aristotelian catharsis. A Greek tragedy 
was much more than a play; it was also a cathedral service, 
it was also one of the ceremonies of the national religion. 
The performance was an illustration of the scriptures, an 
exposition of theology. Modern dramas, even the best of 
them, are none of these things. They are, essentially, 
secular. People go to them, not in order to be reminded 
of their philosophy of life, not to establish some kind of 
communion with their gods, but merely to 'get a kick,' 
merely to titillate their feelings. The habit of self-titillation 
grows with what it feeds upon. For the Greeks, dramatic 
festivals were * solemn and rare.' For us they are an almost 
daily stimulant. Abused as we abuse it at present, dramatic 
art is in no sense cathartic; it is merely a form of emotional 
masturbation. All arts can be used as a form of self-abuse ; 
but masturbation through the drama is probably the worst 
form of artistic debauchery, and for this reason: acting is 
one of the most dangerous of trades. It is the rarest thing 
to find a player who has not had his character affected for 
the worse by the practice of his profession. Nobody can 
make a habit of self-exhibition, nobody can exploit his 



personality for the sake of exercising a kind of hypnotic 
power over others, and remain untouched by the process. 
(In the Oneida community it was found that 'prima donna 
fever,' as John Noyes called it, could produce disruptive 
effects of extraordinary magnitude. Noyes, who was a 
psychologist of genius and the shrewdest of practical 
moralists, took the greatest pains to prevent a recrudes- 
cence of this disease, which has been the ruin of so many 
actors and virtuosi. 1 ) Acting inflames the ego in a way 
which few other professions do. For the sake of enjoying 
regular emotional self-abuse, our societies condemn a con- 
siderable class of men and women to a perpetual inability 
to achieve non-attachment. It seems a high price to pay 
for our amusements. 

The chief educative virtue of literature consists in 
its power to provide its readers with examples which 
they can follow. To some extent, all human beings 
are, in Jules de Gaultier's phrase, 'bovaristic' that is 
to say they have a capacity for seeing themselves as 
they are not, for playing a part other than that which 
heredity and circumstances seem to have assigned to them. 
The heroine of Flaubert's novel came to a tragic end; but 
there is no reason why all bovaristic behaviour should turn 
out so disastrously as it did in the case of the original 
Mme Bovary. There is good bovarism as well as bad 
bovarism. Educationists have always known this fact and, 
from time immemorial, have tried to mould the character 
of their pupils by providing them with literary models to 
be imitated in real life. Such models may be mythical, 
historical or fictional. Hercules and Thor are instances of 
the first kind of heroic model; Plutarch's statesmen and 
soldiers and the saints of the Christian calendar are instances 
of the historical model; Hamlet and Werther, Julien Sorel 

1 See A Yankee Saint (the latest and best biography of Noyes), by 
Robert Allerton Parker (New York, 1935). 



and Alyosha Karamazov, Juliet and Lady Chatterley are 
instance of fictional heroes and heroines upon whom, at 
one time or another, great numbers of human beings have 
patterned themselves. In all cases, whether mythical, 
historical or fictional, some measure of literary art is 
necessary; if the story is told inadequately, the pupil will 
remain unimpressed, will feel no desire to imitate the 
model set before him. Hence the importance, even in 
ethical instruction, of good art. Moreover, every genera- 
tion must produce its stock of imitable models, described 
in terms of an art .which is not merely good, but also 
up-to-date. Old good art can never have the same appeal 
as new good art; for most people/ indeed, it cannot rival 
with new bad art. More people bovarize themselves upon 
the models provided by the pulp magazines than upon those 
provided by Shakespeare. There are two reasons for this. 
The first is that, though crude and incompetent, the pulp 
magazines deal with contemporary characters, while Shake- 
speare, though incomparable in his power to 'put things 
across/ is more than three hundred years out of date; 
the second must be sought in the fact that the moral effort 
required to imitate Shakespeare's heroes, and even his 
villains, is far greater than that which is needed to imitate 
the personages of pulp-magazine fiction. Pulp-magazine 
stories are transcriptions of the commonest and easiest day- 
dreams dreams of sexual titillation, of financial success, 
of luxury, of social recognition. Shakespeare's personages 
are on a larger scale. They embody the hardly realizable, 
extravagant day-dreams of paranoiacs of men who dream 
of being lovers uniquely faithful, proud saviours of their 
country uniquely disinterested and uniquely adored, villains 
uniquely vengeful and malignant. In this context it is worth 
remarking that except for die Duke in Measure for Measure 
and he is scarcely a human being, only a symbol 
Shakespeare gives no picture of a non-attached human 



being. Indeed, good pictures of non-attached men and 
tf omen are singularly rare in the world's literature. The 
good people in plays and novels are rarely complete, fully 
adult personages. They are either a bit deficient, like 
Dostoievsky's epileptic Prince Mishkin, like Gorki's virtu- 
ous but imbecile hermit, or Dickens's charitable but utterly 
infantile Cheerybles, or else, like Pickwick, they are made 
lovable by being represented as eccentric to the point of 
absurdity ; we can tolerate their superiority in virtue be- 
cause we feel superior in common sense. Finally and most 
frequently they are shown as being good without being 
intelligent, like Colonel Newcome, or the peasant who 
talks to Tolstoy's Pierre in prison. These individuals are 
personally good within an abominably bad system which 
they do not even question. Men who are profoundly good 
without being intelligent have often attained to sainthood. 
The Cure d'Ars and St, Peter Claver are cases in point. 
One must admire such men for the, by ordinary standards, 
superhuman qualities of character which they display. At 
the same time, it is, I think, necessary to admit that they 
are not complete, not fully adult. Perfect non-attachment 
demands of those who aspire to it, not only compassion 
and charity, but also the intelligence that perceives the 
general implications of particular acts, that sees the in- 
dividual being within the system of social and cosmic 
relations of which he is but a part. In this respect, it 
seems to me, Buddhism shows itself decidedly superior to 
Christianity. In the Buddhist ethic stupidity, or unaware- 
ness, ranks as one of the principal sins. At the same time 
people are warned that they must take their share of 
responsibility for the social order in which they find 
themselves. One of the branches of the Eightfold Path is 
said to be * right means of livelihood.' The Buddhist is 
expected to refrain from engaging in such socially harmful 
occupations as soldiering, or the manufacture of arms and 



intoxicating drugs. Christian moralists make the enormous 
mistake of not masting upon right means of livelihood. 
The church allows people to believe that they can be good 
Christians and yet draw dividends from armament factories, 
can be good Christians and yet imperil the well-being of 
their fellows by speculating in stocks and shares, can be 
good Christians and yet be imperialists, yet participate in 
war. All that is required of the good Christian is chastity 
and a modicum of charity in immediate personal relations. 
An intelligent understanding and appraisal of the long-range 
consequences of acts is not insisted upon by Christian 
moralists. 1 One of the results of this doctrinal inadequacy 
is that there is a singular lack, as well in imaginative as in 
biographical literature, of intelligently virtuous, adultly 
non-attached personages, upon whom young people may 
model their behaviour. This is a deplorable state of things. 
Literary example is a powerful instrument for the moulding 
of character. But most of our literary examples, as we 
have seen, are mere idealizations of the average sensual man. 
Of the more heroic characters the majority are just 
grandiosely paranoiac; the others are good, but good 
incompletely and without intelligence; are virtuous within 
a bad system which they fail to see the need of changing; 
combine a measure of non-attachment in personal matters 
with loyalty to some creed, such as Fascism or Communism 
or Nationalism, that entails, if acted upon, the commission 
of every kind of crime. There is a great need for literary 
artists as the educators of a new type of human being. 
Unfortunately most literary artists are human beings of 
the old type. They have been educated in such a way 
that, even when they are revolutionaries, they think in 
terms of the values accepted by the essentially militaristic 

1 In the Middle Ages the Church made a serious effort to moralize 
economic activity. The attempt, as Tawney has shown in Religion 
and the Rise of Capitalism, was abandoned after the Reformation. 

o 209 



society of which they are members. Quis custodiet custodes f 
Who will educate die educators? The answer, of course, 
is painfully simple: nobody but the educators themselves. 
Our human world is composed of an endless series of vicious 
circles, from which it is possible to escape only by an act, 
or rather a succession of acts, of intelligently directed will. 

Dictatorial governments regard free intelligence as their 
worst enemy. In this they are probably perfectly right. 
Tyranny cannot exist unless there is passive obedience 
on the part of the tyrannized. But passive obedience to 
authority is not compatible with the free exercise of 
intelligence. It is for this reason that all tyrants try so 
hard either to suppress intelligence altogether or to compel 
it to exercise itself only within certain prescribed limits and 
along certain channels carved out for it in advance. Hence 
the systematic use which all dictators make of the 
instrument of propaganda. 

In societies more primitive than our own, societies in 
which a traditional religion and a traditional code of 
morality are unquestioningly accepted, there is no need of 
deliberate propaganda. People behave in the traditional 
way 'by instinct,' and never stop dispassionately to con- 
sider what they are doing, feeKng, thinking. Even in 
societies like ours there is an astonishing amount of un- 
questioning acceptance of customary behaviour-patterns, 
thought-patterns, feeling-patterns. A very large number 
even of intelligent men and women use their intelligence 
only for the purpose of making a good job of what is 
traditionally regarded as their duty; they seldom or never 
use it to pass judgment upon the duty itself. Hence the 
dismal spectacle of scientists and technicians using all 
their powers to help their country's rulers to commit mass 
murder with increased efficiency and indiscriminateness; 
of scholars and men of letters prostituting their talents for 
die purpose of bolstering national prestige with learned lies 



and fascinating rhetoric. Even in the democratic countries, 
intelligence is generally used only to create (in Thoreau's 
words) improved means to unimproved ends to ends that 
are dictated by socially sanctioned prejudice and the lowest 
passions. Such, I repeat, is generally the case; but 
fortunately not always. Where intelligence is permitted 
to exercise itself freely, there will always be a few people 
prepared to use their wits for die purpose of judging 
traditional ends as well as for devising effective means to 
those ends. It is thanks to such individuals that the 
very idea of desirable change is able to come into 

For the dictator such questioning free intelligences are 
exceedingly dangerous; for it is essential, if he is to pre- 
serve his position, that the socially sanctioned prejudices 
should not be questioned and that men should use their 
wits solely for the purpose of finding more effective means 
to achieve those ends which are compatible with dictator- 
ship. Hence the persecution of daring individuals, the 
muzzling of the press, and the systematic attempt by means 
of propaganda to create a public opinion favourable to 
tyranny. In the dictatorial countries the individual is 
subjected to propaganda, as to military training, almost 
from infancy. All his education is propagandist and, when 
he leaves school, he is exposed to the influence of a con- 
trolled press, a controlled cinema, a controlled literature, 
a controlled radio. Within a few years controlled television 
and possibly a controlled teletype service functioning in 
every home will have to be added to this list of weapons 
in the dictator's armoury. Nor is this all; it is likely 
enough that pharmacology will be called in as an ally of 
applied psychology. There are drugs, such as a mixture 
of scopolamine and chloral, that enormously increase 
the individual's suggestibility. It is more than likely 
that dictators will soon be making use of such sub- 



stances in order to heighten their subjects 9 loyalty and 
blind faith. 

In the democratic countries, intelligence is still free to 
ask whatever questions it chooses. This freedom, it is 
almost certain, will not survive another war. Educationists 
should therefore do all they can, while there is yet time, 
to build up in the minds of their charges a habit of resist- 
ance to suggestion. If such resistance is not built up, the 
men and women of the next generation will be at the mercy 
of any skilful propagandist who contrives to seize the 
instruments of information and persuasion. Resistance to 
suggestion can be built up in two ways. First, children 
can be taught to rely on their own internal resources and 
not to depend on incessant stimulation from without. 
This is doubly important. Reliance on external stimulation 
is bad for the character. Moreover, such stimulation is the 
stuff with which propagandists bait their hooks, the jam 
in which dictators conceal their ideological pills. An 
individual who relies on external stimulations thereby 
exposes himself to the full force of whatever propaganda 
is being made in his neighbourhood. For a majority of 
people in the West, purposeless reading, purposeless 
listening-in, purposeless looking at films have become 
addictions, psychological equivalents of alcoholism and 
morphinism. Things have come to such a pitch that there 
are many millions of men and women who suffer real 
distress if they are cut off for a few days or even a few 
hours from newspapers, radio music, moving pictures. 
Like the addict to a drug, they have to indulge their vice, 
not because the indulgence gives them any active pleasure, 
but because, unless they indulge, they feel painfully sub- 
normal and incomplete. Without papers, films and wireless 
they live a diminished existence; they are fully themselves 
only when bathing in sports news and murder trials, in 
radio music and talk, in die vicarious terrors, triumphs and 



eroticisms of the films. Even by intelligent people, it is 
now taken for granted that such psychological addictions 
are inevitable and even desirable, that there is nothing to 
be alarmed at in the fact that the majority of civilized men 
and women are now incapable of living on their own 
spiritual resources, but have become abjectly dependent on 
incessant stimulation from without. Recently, for example, 
I read a little book in which an eminent American biologist 
gives his view about the Future. Science, he prophesies, 
will enormously increase human happiness and intelligence 
will do so, among other ways, by providing people with 
micro-cinematographs which they can slip on like spectacles 
whenever they are bored. Science will also, no doubt, 
be able very soon to supply us with micro-pocket-flasks 
and micro-hypodermic-syringes, micro-alcohol, micro- 
cigarettes and micro-cocaine. Long live science ! 

How can children be taught to rely upon their own 
spiritual resources and resist the temptation to become 
reading-addicts, hearing-addicts, seeing-addicts? First of 
all, they can be taught how to entertain themselves 
by making things, by playing musical instruments, by 
purposeful study, by scientific observation, by the practice 
of some art, and so on. But such education of the hand 
and the intellect is not enough. Psychology has its 
Gresham's Law; its bad money drives out the good. 
Most people tend to perform the actions that require least 
effort, to think the thoughts that are easiest, to feel the 
emotions that are most vulgarly commonplace, to give 
rein to the desires that are most nearly animal. And they 
will tend to do this even if they possess the knowledge and 
skill to do otherwise. Along with the necessary knowledge 
and skill must be given the will to use them, even under 
the pressure of incessant temptation to take the line of least 
resistance and become an addict to psychological drugs. 
Most people will not wish to resist these temptations unless 



they have a coherent philosophy of life, which makes it 
reasonable and right for them to do so, and unless they 
know some technique by means of which they can be sure 
of giving practical effect to their good intentions. 

Video meliora proboquc; 
Deteriora sequor. 

To see and approve the better is useless, if one then regularly 
proceeds to pursue the worse. What is the philosophy of 
life that should be taught? And what are the proper 
techniques by means of which people can persuade them- 
selves to act upon their convictions? These are questions 
which will be dealt with in a later chapter. 

So much for the first method of heightening resistance to 
suggestion. It will be seen that this consists essentially in 
teaching young people to dispense with the agreeable 
stimulations offered by the newspapers, wireless and films 
stimulations which serve, as I have said, to bait the pro- 
pagandist's hooks. A boycott of sports news and murder 
stories, of jazz and variety, of film love, film thrills and film 
luxury, is simultaneously a boycott of political, economic 
and ethical propaganda. Hence the vital importance of 
teaching as many young people as possible how to amuse 
themselves and at the same time inducing them to wish to 
amuse themselves. 

The other method of heightening resistance to suggestion 
is purely intellectual and consists in training young people 
to subject the devices of the propagandists to critical 
analysis. The first thing that educators must do is to 
analyse the words currently used in newspapers, on plat- 
forms, by preachers and broadcasters. What, for example, 
does die word * nation ' mean ? To what extent are speakers 
and writers justified in talking of a nation as a person? 
Who precisely is the 'she/ of whom people speak when 
discussing a nation's foreign politics? ('Britain is an 



imperial power. She must defend her Empire/) In what 
sense can a nation be described as having a will or national 
interests? Are these interests and will the interests and 
will of the entire population? or of a majority? or of a 
ruling caste and a few professional politicians? In what 
way, if any, does 'the state 9 differ from Messrs. Smith, 
Brown, Jones and the other gentlemen who happen for 
the moment to have secured political power? Given the 
character of Brown, Jones etc., why should 'the state* 
be regarded as an institution worthy of almost religious 
respect? Where does national honour reside? Why would 
the loss of Hong-Kong, for example, be a mortal blow to 
Britain's honour, while its seizure after a war in which 
Britain attempted to force the Chinese to buy opium was 
in no way a stain upon the same honour? And so on. 
c Nation* is only one of several dozens of rich and resonant 
words which are ordinarily accepted without a thought, 
but which it is essential, if we would think clearly, that 
we should subject to the most searching analysis. 

It is no less important that children should be taught to 
examine all personifications, all metaphors and all ab- 
stractions occurring in the articles they read, the speeches 
they listen to. They must learn to translate these empty 
words into terms of concrete contemporary reality. When 
an Asquith says, 'we shall not sheathe the sword which we 
have not lightly drawn,* when an Archbishop of Canterbury 
affirms 'that force, the sword, is the instrument of God for 
the protection of the people,* they must learn to translate 
this noble verbiage into the language of the present. 
Swords have played no appreciable part in war for the 
last two hundred years. In 1914 Asquith*s sword was 
high explosives and shrapnel, machine-guns, battleships, 
submarines. In 1937 the 'instrument of God for the pro- 
tection of die people* was all the armaments existing in 1914 
plus tanks, plus aeroplanes, plus thermite, plus phosgene, 



plus arsenic smokes, plus Lewisite and many other in- 
struments of murder, more efficient and more indiscriminate 
than anything known in the past. It is frequently in the 
interest of the rulers of a country to disguise the true facts 
of contemporary reality under thick veils of misleading 
verbiage. It is the business of educators to teach their 
pupils to translate these picturesque or empty phrases into 
die language of contemporary reality. 

Verbal propaganda is not the only nor even, perhaps, 
the most effective form of organized suggestion. There 
is another kind, specially favoured by modern commercial 
propagandists and used from time immemorial by such 
non-commercial advertisers as kings, priests and soldiers. 
This consists in arbitrarily associating the idea which is to 
be suggested with some object, some image, some sound, 
some literary description, that is either intrinsically delight- 
ful or in some way suggestive of pleasantness. For example, 
the advertiser of soap will show a picture of a young 
voluptuous female, about to take a bath among plumbing 
fixtures of pink marble and chromium. The advertiser of 
cigarettes will show people dining in what the lady novelists 
describe as ' faultless evening dress,* or reproduce the photo- 
graph of some well-known film star, millionairess, or tided 
lady. The advertiser of whisky will illustrate a group of 
handsome men lounging in luscious upholstery and being 
waited upon by the most obsequious of family retainers. 
The aim in all such cases is the same to associate the 
idea of the goods offered for sale with ideas which die 
public already regards as delightful, such as the idea of 
erotic pleasure, the idea of personal charm, the idea of 
wealth and social superiority. In other cases the idea of 
the merchandise is associated with intrinsically delightful 
landscapes, with funny or pathetic children, with flowers 
or pet animals, with scenes of family life. In countries 
where radio advertising is permitted, commercial pro- 



pagandists find it worth their while to associate the idea 
of their cars, their cigarettes, their breakfast cereal or what 
not with performances by comedians or concerts of vocal 
or orchestral music. This last is the type of association 
favoured by kings, soldiers and priests. From the begin- 
ning of history, rulers have 'put themselves across* by 
associating the idea of their government with magnificent 
pageantry, with impressive architecture, with every kind 
of rare, splendid and beautiful thing. It is the same with 
the soldier. Military music intoxicates like wine, and a 
military review is, in its own way, no less inebriating. 
(The author of the Song of Songs goes so far as to establish 
an emotional equivalence between a sexually desirable per- 
son and an army with banners.) Priests make use of an 
essentially similar type of propaganda. Systematically, 
they have always associated the idea of their god and of 
themselves as die god's representatives with intrinsically 
delightful works of art of every kind, from music and 
architecture to dressmaking, with symbols of wealth 
and power, with organized joy and organized terror and 
mystery even, in many religions, with organized cruelty 
and lust. 

Propaganda of this kind generally proves irresistible. 
Cigarettes are bought in ever-increasing quantities; ever 
vaster and more loyal crowds flock to military reviews, to 
royal and dictatorial pageants, to the splendid ceremonials 
of nationalistic idolatry. Once again resistance to sug- 
gestion can be heightened only by sharpening the critical 
faculty of those concerned. The art of dissociating ideas 
should have a place in every curriculum. Young people 
must be trained to consider the problems of government, 
international politics, religion and the like in isolation from 
the pleasant images, with which a particular solution of these 
problems has been associated, more or less deliberately, by 
those whose interest it is to make the public think, feel and 



judge in a certain way. The training might begin with a 
consideration of popular advertising. Children could be 
shown that there is no necessity and organic connection 
between the pretty girl in her expensive dressing-gown 
and the merits of the tooth-paste she is intended to 
advertise. This lesson might be brought home by practical 
demonstrations. Chocolates could be wrapped in a paper 
adorned with realistic pictures of scorpions, and castor-oil 
and quinine distributed from containers in the form of 
Sealyham terriers or Shirley Temple. Having mastered 
the art of dissociation in the field of commercial advertising, 
our young people could be trained to apply the same 
critical methods to the equally arbitrary and even more 
dangerously misleading associations which exist in the 
fields of politics and religion. They would be shown that 
it is possible for a man to get the fullest aesthetic enjoyment 
out of a military or religious pageant without allowing 
that enjoyment in any way to influence his judgment 
regarding the value of war as a political instrument or the 
truth and moral usefulness of the religion in question. 
They would be taught to consider monarchy and 
dictatorship on their own political and ethical merits, not 
on the choreographical merits of processions and court 
ceremonials, not on the architectural merits of palaces, 
not on the rhetorical merits of speeches, not on the 
organizational merits of a certain kind of technical 
efficiency. And so on. 

That the art of dissociation will ever be taught in schools 
under direct state control is, of course, almost infinitely 
improbable. Those who use the power of the state always 
desire to preserve a certain given order of things. They 
therefore always try to persuade or compel their subjects 
to accept, as right and reasonable, certain solutions (hardly 
ever the best) of the outstanding problems of politics and 
economics. Hence the insistence, on the part of govern- 



merits, that the ideas embodying these solutions shall always 
be associated with intrinsically pleasing images. The art 
of dissociation can be taught only by individuals who are 
not under direct government control. This is one of the 
reasons why it is so important that state-aided education 
shall, wherever possible, be supplemented by education in 
the hands of private persons. Some of this privately 
organized education will certainly be bad; some will 
probably exist solely for reasons of snobbery. But a few 
of the private educators will be genuinely experimental and 
intelligent; a few will use their blessed independence to 
make the desirable change which state-controlled teachers 
are not allowed to initiate. i Les enfants ri apparticnntnt 
qua la R&publique.' So wrote the Marquis de Sade. That 
such a man should have been so ardent a supporter of 
exclusive state education is a fact that, in the light of 
the history of contemporary dictatorships, is highly 

Using an arbitrary, but unavoidable, system of classifica- 
tion, I have spoken in turn of education as character- 
training, education as instruction, education as training of 
the emotions. It is now necessary to speak of another 
form of education, a form which must underlie and 
accompany all the other forms, namely the education 
of the body. 

In the world as we know it, mind and body form a single 
organic whole. What happens in the mind affects the body ; 
what happens in the body affects the mind. Education 
must therefore be a process of physical as well as mental 

Of what nature should this physical training be? The 
question cannot be properly answered except in terms of 
our first principles. We are agreed that the ideal human 
being is one who is non-attached. Accordingly all 
education, including physical education, must ultimately 



ailn at producing non-attachment. If we would discover 
which is the best form of physical training, we must 
begin by setting forth the physical conditions of non- 

First of all, it is pretty clear that non-attachment is very 
hardly realizable by anyone whose body is seriously mal- 
adjusted. A maladjusted body affects the mind in several 
ways. When the maladjustment is very great, the body 
is subject to pain and discomfort. Pain and discomfort 
invade the field of consciousness, with the result that the 
owner of the body finds great difficulty in not identifying 
himself with his faulty physical processes. From a being 
who is potentially more than what is conventionally 
styled a * person/ he is reduced by pain and discomfort 
to a being who is less than a person. He comes to 
be equated with one of the body's badly functioning 

In other cases pain and discomfort may not be present; 
but the maladjusted body may be subject, without its 
owner being aware of the fact, to chronic strains and stresses. 
What happens in the body affects the mind. Physical strains 
set up psychological strains. The body is the instrument 
used by the mind to establish contact with the outside world. 
Any modification of this instrument must correspondingly 
modify the mind's relations with external reality. Where 
the body is maladjusted and under strain, the mind's 
relations, sensory, emotional, intellectual, conative, with 
external reality are likely to be unsatisfactory. And the 
same would seem to be true of the mind's relations with 
what may be called internal reality with that more-than- 
self which, if we choose, we can discover within us and 
which the mystics have identified with God, the Law, the 
Light, the integrating principle of the world. All the 
Eastern mystics are insistent on the necessity of bodily 
health. A sick man cannot attain enlightenment. They 



further point out that it is very difficult for a man to acquire 
the art of contemplation unless he observes certain rules 
of diet and adopts certain bodily postures. Similar 
observations have been made by Christian mystics in the 
West. For example, the author of The. Cloud of Unknowing 
insists, in a very striking and curious passage which I 
shall quote in a later chapter, that enlightenment, or mystical 
union with God, is unattainable by those who are physically 
uncontrolled to the extent of fidgeting, nervously laughing, 
making odd gestures and grimaces. Such tics and com- 
pulsions (it is a matter of observation) are almost invariably 
associated with physical maladjustment and strain. Where 
they exist, the highest forms of non-attachment are un- 
achievable. It follows therefore that the ideal system of 
physical education must be one which relieves people of 
maladjustment and strain. 

Another condition of non-attachment is awareness. 
Unawareness is one of the main sources of attachment 
or evil. 'Forgive them, for they know not what they do.' 
Those who know not what they do are indeed in need of 
forgiveness; for they are responsible for an immense 
amount of suffering. Yet more urgent than their need to 
be forgiven is their need to know. For if they knew, it 
may be that they would not perform those stupid and 
criminal acts whose ineluctable consequences no amount of 
human or divine forgiveness can prevent. A good physical 
education should teach awareness on the physical plane 
not the obsessive and unwished-for awareness that pain 
imposes upon the mind, but voluntary and intentional 
awareness. The body must be trained to think. True, 
this happens every time we learn a manual skill; our 
bodies think when we draw, or play golf, or take a piano 
lesson. But all such thinking is specialist thinking. What 
we need is an education for our bodies that shall be, on 
the bodily plane, liberal and not merely technical and 




narrowly specific. The awareness that our bodies need 
is the knowledge of some general principle of right 
integration, and along with it, a knowledge of the proper 
way to apply that principle in every phase of physical 

There can be no non-attachment without inhibition. 
When the state of non-attachment has become 'a second 
nature/ inhibition will doubtless no longer be necessary; 
for impulses requiring inhibition will not arise. Those in 
whom non-attachment is a permanent state are few. For 
everyone else, such impulses requiring inhibition arise with 
a distressing frequency. The technique of inhibition needs 
to be learnt on all the planes of our being. On the intel- 
lectual plane for we cannot hope to think intelligently or 
to practise the simplest form of * recollection* unless we 
learn to inhibit irrelevant thoughts. On the emotional 
plane for we shall never reach even the lowest degree of 
non-attachment unless we can check as they arise the 
constant movements of malice and vanity, of lust and 
sloth, of avarice, anger and fear. On the physical plane 
for if we are maladjusted (as most of us are in the circum- 
stances of modern urban life), we cannot expect to achieve 
integration unless we inhibit our tendency to perform 
actions in the, to us, familiar, maladjusted way. Mind and 
body are organically one; and it is therefore inherently 
likely that, if we can learn the art of conscious inhibition 
on the physical level, it will help us to acquire and practise 
the same art on the emotional and intellectual levels. What 
is needed is a practical morality working at every level from 
the bodily to the intellectual. A good physical education 
will be one which supplies the body with just such a 
practical morality. It will be a curative morality, a morality 
of inhibitions and conscious control, and at the same time, 
by promoting health and proper physical integration, it 
will be a system of what I have called preventive ethics, 



forestalling many kinds of trouble by never giving them 
the opportunity to arise. 

So far as I am aware, the only system of physical 
education which fulfils all these conditions is the system 
developed by F. M. Alexander. Mr. Alexander has given 
a full account of his system in three books, each of which 
is prefaced by Professor John Dewey. 1 It is therefore 
unnecessary for me to describe it here all the more so 
as no verbal description can do justice to a technique which 
involves the changing, by a long process of instruction on 
the part of the teacher and of active co-operation on that 
of the pupil, of an individual's sensory experiences. One 
cannot describe the experience of seeing the colour, red. 
Similarly one cannot describe the much more complex 
experience of improved physical co-ordination. A verbal 
description would mean something only to a person who 
had actually had the experience described; to the mal- 
co-ordinated person, the same words would mean some- 
thing quite different. Inevitably, he would interpret them 
in terms of his own sensory experiences, which are those 
of a mal-co-ordinated person. Complete understanding of 
the system can come only with the practice of it. All I 
need say in this place is that I am sure, as a matter of 
personal experience and observation, that it gives us all the 
things we have been looking for in a system of physical 
education: relief from strain due to maladjustment, and 
consequent improvement in physical and mental health; 
increased consciousness of the physical means employed 
to gain the ends proposed by the will and, along with this, 
a general heightening of consciousness on all levels; a 
technique of inhibition, working on the physical level to 
prevent the body from slipping back, under the influence 
of greedy 'end-gaining/ into its old habits of mal- 

1 Mans Supreme Inheritance, Creative Conscious Control, and The 
Use of the Self. 



co-ordination, and working (by a kind of organic analogy) 
to inhibit undesirable impulses and irrelevance on the 
emotional and intellectual levels respectively. We cannot 
ask more from any system of physical education; nor, if 
we seriously desire to alter human beings in a desirable 
direction, can we ask any less. 

Chapter XIII 

ELIGION is, among many other things, a system of 
XX education, by means of which human beings may 
train themselves, first, to make desirable changes in their 
own personalities and, at one remove, in society, and, in 
the second place, to heighten consciousness and so establish 
more adequate relations between themselves and the 
universe of which they are parts. 

Religion is this, I repeat, among many other things. 
For, alas, by no means all die doctrines and practices of 
the existing religions are calculated to ameliorate character 
or heighten consciousness. On the contrary, a great deal 
of what is taught and done in the name of even the most 
highly evolved religions is definitely pernicious, and a 
great deal more is ethically neutral not particularly bad, 
but, on the other hand, not particularly good. Towards 
the kind of religion whose fruits are moral evil and a 
darkening of the mind the rational idealist can only show 
an uncompromising hostility. Such things as persecution 
and the suppression or distortion of truth are intrinsically 
wrong, and he can have nothing to do with religious 
organizations which countenance such iniquities. 

His attitude towards the ethically neutral customs, rites 
and ceremonies of organized religion will be determined 
exclusively by the nature of their effects. If such things 
help to maintain a satisfactory social pattern, if they serve 
to facilitate and enrich the relations between man and man, 
between group and group, then he will accord them a 
p 225 


certain qualified favour. True, he may recognize very 
clearly that such practices do not help men to attain to 
the highest forms of human development, but are actually 
impediments in the path. The Buddha put down ritualism 
as one of the Ten Fetters which bind men to illusion and 
prevent them from attaining enlightenment. Nevertheless, 
in view of the fact that most individuals will certainly not 
wish to attain enlightenment in other words, develop 
themselves to the limits of human capacity there may be 
something to be said in favour of ritualism. Attachment 
to traditional ceremonials and belief in the magical efficacy 
of ritual may prevent men from attaining to enlightenment; 
but, on the other hand, they may help such individuals as 
have neither the desire nor the capacity for enlightenment 
to behave a little better than they otherwise would have 

It is impossible to discuss the value of rites and symbolic 
ceremonials without reopening a question already touched 
upon in the chapters on Inequality and Education: the 
question of psychological types and degrees of mental 
development. Significantly enough, most of the historical 
founders of religions and a majority of religious philosophers 
have been in agreement upon this matter. They have 
divided human beings into a minority of individuals, 
capable of making the efforts required to 'attain enlighten- 
ment,' and a great majority incapable of making such 
efforts. This conception is fundamental in Hinduism, 
Buddhism and, in general, all Indian philosophy. It is 
implicit in the teaching of Lao Tsu, and again in that of 
the Stoics. Jesus of Nazareth taught that 'many are 
called, but few are chosen 9 and that there were certain 
people who constituted 'the salt of the earth 9 and who 
were therefore able to preserve the world, to prevent it 
from decaying. The Gnostic sects believed in the existence 
of esoteric and exoteric teaching, the latter reserved for 



the many, the former for the few who were capable of 
profiting by them. The Catholic Church exterminated 
the Gnostics, but proceeded to organize itself as though 
the Gnostic belief in esoteric and exoteric teachings were 
true. 1 For the vulgar it provided ceremonial, magically 
compulsive formulas, the worship of images, a calendar of 
holy days. To the few it taught, through the mouth of 
the mystics, that such external "aids to devotion' were 
(as Buddha had pointed out many centuries before) strong 
fetters holding men back from enlightenment or, in Christian 
phraseology, from communion with God. In practice, 
Christianity, like Hinduism or Buddhism, is not one 
religion, but several religions, adapted to the needs of 
different types of human beings. A Christian church in 
Southern Spain, or Mexico, or Sicily, is singularly like a 
Hindu temple. The eye is delighted by the same gaudy 
colours, the same tripe-like decorations, the same gesticu- 
lating statues; the nose inhales the same intoxicating 
smells; the ear and, along with it, the understanding, are 
lulled by the drone of the same incomprehensible incanta- 
tions, roused by the same loud, impressive music. At the 
other end of the scale, consider the chapel of a Cistercian 
monastery and the meditation hall of a community of 
Zen Buddhists. They are equally bare; aids to devotion 
(in other words, fetters holding back the soul from en- 
lightenment) are conspicuously absent from either building. 
Here are two distinct religions for two distinct kinds of 
human beings. 

The history of ideas is to a great extent the history of 
the misinterpretation of ideas. An outstanding individual 
makes a record of his life or formulates, in the light of 
his personal experience, a theory about the nature of the 
world. Other individuals, not possessing his natural 

1 One of the charges levelled by the Inquisition against Eckhart 
was that he had spoken openly to die people of holy mysteries. 



endowments, read what he has written, and, because their 
psychological make-up is different from that of the author, 
fail to understand what he means. They re-interpret his 
words in the light of their own experience, their own 
knowledge, their own prejudices. Consequently, they 
learn from their teacher, not to be like him, but to be 
more themselves. Misunderstood, his words serve to 
justify their desires, rationalize their beliefs. Not all of 
the magic, the liturgy, the ritual existing in the historical 
religions is a survival from a more primitive age. A good 
part of it, it is probable, is relatively new the product of 
misunderstanding. Mystical writers recording psycho* 
logical experiences in symbolical language were often 
supposed by the non-mystics to be talking about alchemy 
or magic rites. Episodes in the inner life were projected, 
in a strangely distorted form, into the outer world, where 
they helped to swell the majestic stream of primitive 
superstition. There is a danger that the present wide- 
spread interest in oriental psychology and philosophy 
may lead, through misunderstanding, to a recrudescence 
of the grossest forms of superstition. 

To what extent can rites and formularies, symbolic acts 
and objects be made use of in modern times? The question 
has been asked at frequent intervals ever since organized 
Christianity began to lose its hold upon the West. Attempts 
have been made to fabricate synthetic rituals without much 
success. The French Revolutionary cult of Reason and 
the Supreme .Being died with the Thermidorian reaction. 
Comte's religion 'of Humanity 'Catholicism without 
Christianity/ as T. H. Huxley called it never took root. 
Even the rituals and ceremonies devised from time to time 
by successful Christian revivalists seldom outlive their 
authors or spread beyond the buildings in which they 
were originally practised. 

On the Other hand, ne^ rituals and ceremonials have 



sprung up in connection with the cults of nationalism and 
socialism have sprung up and continued to flourish over 
a long period of years. 

Considering these instances, let us risk a few generaliza- 
tions. Ritual and ceremonial will arise almost spontaneously 
wherever masses of people are gathered together for the 
purpose of taking part in any activity in which they are 
emotionally concerned. Such rites and ceremonials will 
survive and develop for just so long as the emotional 
concern is felt. It is impossible to persuade people who 
are not emotionally concerned in any given idea, or person, 
to make a habit of performing rites and ceremonies in 
connection with that idea or person. To create a ritual, 
as Comte did, in the hope that it will create a religious 
emotion, is to put the cart before the horse. Where the 
emotional concern exists, ritual will serve to strengthen it, 
even to revive it when enthusiasm grows weary; but it 
cannot create emotion. (To be more accurate, it cannot 
create a lasting sentiment. A ceremony well performed is 
a work of art from which even the sceptical spectator may 
'get a kick/ But one can be deeply moved by Macbeth 
without being converted to a permanent belief in witch- 
craft can be stirred by a Papal Mass or a review of 
Brownshirts without feeling impelled to become a Catholic 
or a Nazi.) 

At the present time and in the industrialized West, there 
is not very much to be said in favour of the rites, customs 
and ceremonies of traditional Christianity. There is not 
much to be said for them, for the sic^^RHH^hat they 
are demonstrably very i 
nothing to hold together the \ 
and they have proved the 
to the competition of the 
nationalistic idolatry. Men \ 
imperialistically British than 



or fascist than Catholic. In the past, the fetters of Christian 
ritualism may have held people back from enlightenment; 
but these fetters did at least serve as strong ties binding 
individuals to the body of Christian society. To-day they 
have, to a great extent, outlived this social function. 
Indeed, it would be almost true to say that preoccupation 
with traditional religious rites and ceremonies is some- 
thing which actually separates people from the society in 
the midst of which they live. There are only too* many 
men and women who think that, if they have scrupulously 
repeated the prescribed phrases, made the proper gestures 
and observed the traditional taboos, they are excused 
from bothering about anything else. For these people, 
the performance of traditional custom has become a sub- 
stitute for moral effort and intelligence. They fly from 
the problems of real life into symbolical ceremonial; they 
neglect their duties towards themselves, their neighbours 
and their God in order to give idolatrous worship to some 
traditionally hallowed object, to play liturgical charades 
or go through some piece of ancient mummery. Let me 
cite a recent example of this. In the early autumn of 1936 
the London Times recorded the fact that, in deference to 
religious sentiment, flying-boats were henceforward not to 
be allowed to come down on the Sea of Galilee. This is 
a characteristic instance of the way in which preoccupation 
with sacred objects acts as a fetter holding men back, not 
only from personal enlightenment, but even from a rational 
consideration of the facts of contemporary reality. Here 
is a 'religious sentiment 9 which feels itself deeply offended 
if flying machines settle on a certain hallowed sheet of 
water, but which (to judge by the published utterances of 
Anglican deans and bishops) does not find anything 
specially shocking in the thought that these same flying 
machines may be used to drop fire, poison and high- 
explosives upon the inhabitants of unfortified towns. If 


this is religion, then God deliver us from such criminal 

For the rational idealist, what is the moral of the pre- 
ceding paragraphs, what the practical lesson to be drawn 
from a consideration of the nature of religious rites and 
ceremonies? He will conclude, first of all, that, ritualism 
being a fetter to which a great many human beings are 
firmly attached, it is useless to try to get rid of it. Next, 
observing that rites and ceremonies may be used, like any 
other instrument, for evil purposes no less effectively than 
for good, he will do all in his power to encourage their 
use for good purposes and, whether by argument, per- 
suasion or satire, to prevent them from being used to 
further causes that are evil. Finally, taking warning from 
the failures of the past, he will not waste his time in 
fabricating new ceremonials for any movement in which its 
participants are not already emotionally concerned. 

So much for the positively mischievous and the ethically 
neutral aspects of religion. Let us now consider those 
elements in religious practice and belief which have a 
positive value. 

All systems of classification tend in some measure to 
distort reality; but it is impossible to think clearly about 
reality unless we make use of some classificatory system. 
At the risk, then, of over-simplifying the facts, I shall 
classify the varieties of religious practice and religious 
belief under a number of separate heads. 

The present chapter treats solely of existing religious 
practices (not of beliefs), and treats them predominantly 
from a humanistic point of view. From die humanistic 
point of view, religious practices are valuable in so far as 
they provide methods of self-education, methods which 
men can use to transform their characters and enlarge 
their consciousness. 

The methods of which we know the least in the con- 



methods* ^ Jtiese pliysiolocical methods may be classified 
under a few main headings, as follows. 

Most savage peoples and even certain devotees of the 
higher religions make use of repeated rhythmical move- 
ment as a method of inducing unusual states of mind. 
This rhythmic movement may take almost any form, 
from the solitary back-and-forward pacing of the Catholic 
priest reading his breviary, to the elaborate ritual dances 
of primitives all over the world. The repetition of 
rhythmical movement seems to have much the same effects 
as the repetition of verbal formulas or phrases of music: 
It lulls to rest the superficial part of the consciousness and 
leaves the deeper mind free either to concentrate on 
ultimate reality (as in the case of the solitary priest, pacing 
up and down with his breviary), or to experience a profound 
sense of solidarity with other human beings and with the 
presiding divinity (as happens in the case of ritual dancers). 
Christianity, it would seem, made a great mistake when it 
allowed the dance to become completely secularized. For 
men and women of somatotonic type, ritual dances provide 
a religious experience that seems more satisfying and con- 
vincing than any other. 

Another physiological method is that of asceticism. 
Fasting, sleeplessness, discomfort and self-inflicted pain 
have been used by devotees of every religion as methods, 
not only of atoning for sin, but also of schooling the will 
and modifying the ordinary, everyday consciousness. 

This last is also the aim of those Indian ascetics who 
train their bodies systematically, until they are able to 
exercise conscious control over physiological processes 
that are normally carried out unconsciously. In many 
cases they go on to produce unusual mental states by the 
systematic and profound modification of certain bodily 
functions, such as respiration and the sexual act 



There is good evidence to show that such practices may 
produce very valuable results. It is possible for a man 
who employs the methods of mortification or of Yoga to 
achieve a high degree of non-attachment to 'the things of 
this world 9 and at the same time so to heighten his con- 
sciousness that he can attach himself more completely than 
the normal man to that which is greater than himself, to 
the integrating principle of all being. It is possible, I 
repeat; but it is not easy. All those who know anything 
about the methods of mortification and of Yoga, whether 
as observers or by personal experience, agree that they 
are dangerous methods. To begin with, they are physio- 
logically dangerous; many bodies break down under the 
strain imposed upon them. But this is not all; there is 
also a moral danger. Of those who undertake such 
methods, only a few are ready to do so for the right 
reason. Ascetics easily degenerate into record-breakers. 
There is little to choose between Simeon the Stylite and 
modern American pole-sitters, or between a fakir on his 
bed of nails and the self-tormenting competitors in a 
dancing Marathon. Vanity and the craving for pre- 
eminence, for distinction, for public recognition figure 
only too frequently among the motives of the ascetics. 
Moreover, in all but the most highly trained individuals, 
physical pain tends to heighten, rather than allay, the 
normal preoccupation with the body. A man in pain has 
the greatest difficulty in not identifying himself with the 
afflicted organ. (The same, of course, is equally true of a 
man experiencing intense pleasure.) A few ascetics may 
be able so to school their minds that they can ignore their 
pain and identify themselves with that which is more than 
the pain and more than the totality of their personal being. 
Many, on the contrary, will end up as diminished beings, 
identified with their pain and with their pride in being 
able to stand so much of it. 



* The danger inherent in the practice of methods of 
conscious physiological control is of a somewhat different 
kind. The methods of Hatha Yoga, as they are called in 
India, are said to result in heightened mental and physical 
powers. (Arthur Avalon gives much interesting infor- 
mation on this subject in his Kundatini. 1 ) It is for the 
sake solely of enjoying these powers, and not in order to 
use them as a means to * enlightenment,' that many adepts 
of Hatha Yoga undertake their training. Pride and sen- 
suality are their motives, and the heightened ability to 
dominate and to enjoy are their rewards. Such people 
emerge from their training, possessed, indeed, of heightened 
powers, but of heightened powers that are the instruments 
of a character that has grown worse instead of better. 

Acting, as he must, on the principle that the tree is 
known by its fruits, the rational idealist will avoid all 
methods of religious self-education involving extreme 
asceticism or the profound modification of physiological 
functions will go on avoiding them until such time as 
increased scientific knowledge permits of their being used 
more safely than is possible at present. Meanwhile, of 
course, he will not neglect any system of training which 
promises to increase, without danger, the individual's 
conscious control of his organism. (This matter has 
been discussed in some detail at the end of the chapter on 

The second method of self-education taught by the 
various religions consists essentially in the cultivation of 
an intimate emotional relationship between the worshipper 
and a personal God or other divine being. This emotional 
method is the one of which the West knows most; for it 
is the method used by the majority of Christians. In India 
it is known as bhakd-marga, the path of devotional faith, 
as opposed to karma-marga, the path of duty or works, 
1 See also Dr. K. Behanan's Yoga (New York, 1937). 


and jfiana-marga, the path of knowledge. Bhakti-marga 
played a relatively small part in Indian religion at any 
rate in the religion of the educated classes until the 
coming of the Bhagavata reformation of the Middle Ages. 
Revolting against die pantheism of the Vedanta and the 
atheism of the Sankhya philosophy and of Buddhism, the 
leaders of the Bhagavata reformation insisted on the 
personal nature of God and the eternally personal existence 
of individual souls. (There is reason to believe that 
Christian influences were at work on the reformers.) A 
kind of bhakti-marga crept into Buddhism with the rise 
of the Greater Vehicle. In this case, however, theologians 
were careful to insist that the objects of Bhakti, the Buddhas, 
were not eternal gods and that the ultimate reality, sub- 
stantial to the world, was impersonal. 

I have said that for people of predominantly somatotonic 
type, rituals involving rhythmical movement provide a 
particularly satisfying form of religious experience. It is 
with their muscles that they most easily obtain knowledge 
of the divine. Similarly, in people of viscerotonic habit 
religious experience tends naturally to take an emotional 
form. But it is difficult to have an emotional relation 
except with a person; the viscerotonic tend, therefore, to 
rationalize their temperamental preferences in terms of a 
personalistic theology. Their direct intuition, they might 
say, is of a personal God. But here a very significant 
fact comes to light (it is discussed at length in the next 
chapter and need only be mentioned here). Those who 
take the trouble to train themselves in the arduous technique 
of mysticism always end, if they go far enough in their 
work of recollection and meditation, by losing their 
intuitions of a personal God and having direct experience 
of an ultimate reality that is impersonal. The experience 
of the great mystics of every age and country is there to 
prove that the theology associated with bhakti-marga is 


inadequate, that it misrepresents the nature of ultimate 
reality. Those who persist in having emotional relation- 
ships with a God whom they believe to be personal are 
people who have never troubled to undertake the arduous 
training which alone makes possible the mystical union of 
the soul with the integrating principle of all being. To 
viscerotonics, with a craving for emotional experience, as 
also to somatotonics, with a craving for muscular ex- 
perience, such training must seem particularly arduous. 
Indeed, the genuine mystical intuition may be an experience 
which it is all but impossible for many people belonging 
to these psycho-physiological types ever to have. Be that 
as it may, the fact remains that such people generally 
choose the types of religious experience they find most 
agreeable and easiest to have. 

The theology of bkaku-marga may be untrue; but it 
often produces very considerable results with great rapidity. 
In other words, the emotional method of religious self- 
education is demonstrably effective. It should be remarked, 
however, that the emotional method of secular self- 
education is no less effective. In his volume, God or Man, 
Professor Leuba has pointed out that startling conversions 
can take place without the question of reKgion ever arising; 
that the imitation of admired human models can produce 
desirable changes of character no less effectively than the 
imitation of divine models. The trouble with bhdkn-marga 
is that it is really too effective by half. Devotion to any 
object of worship, however intrinsically grotesque or even 
evil, is capable of producing great changes in the character 
of the devotees changes that, up to a point, are genuine 
ameliorations. Those who have followed the contemporary 
American cult of the negro man-god, Father Divine, must 
have been struck by the fact that many, probably most, of 
Father's worshippers have undergone a striking * change of 
heart' and are in many respects better men and women 



than they were before their conversion to Divinism. 1 
But this improvement of character has very definite limita- 
tions. Divinists are committed by their theology to a 
belief in the perfection of Father. The commands of a 
perfect being should be obeyed. And, in fact, they are 
obeyed, even when and this would seem to be the case 
in certain of the new church's financial transactions they 
are not in accord with the highest principles of morality. 
The abnormal is worthy of study because of the light it 
throws upon the normal. Divinism is a kind of fantastic 
parody of a religion of personal devotion ; but just because 
it is a parody, it exhibits very clearly the dangers and 
defects, as well as the virtues, of bhakd-marga. Bhakti 
towards Father produced excellent results for just so long 
as Father himself behaved with perfect virtue, or as his 
followers attributed perfect virtue to him. The moment 
he ceased to be virtuous, or the moment non-virtuous 
actions were attributed to him under the mistaken belief 
that they were virtuous, the devotion of his followers 
ceased to be an influence foi; good in their lives and became 
an influence for evil. It is obvious that the obedient 
devotees or imitators of a person who either is, or is 
believed to be in some way evil, cannot themselves be 
wholly good. 

What applies to the worship of Father Divine, applies, 
mutatis mutandis^ to all other forms of bhakti-marga. 
Devotion to, and imitation of, a personal divinity provide 
worshippers with more energy to change themselves and 
the world around them than any other form of religious 
self-education. This is an empirical fact. Now, energy is 
a good thing provided it be well directed. Devotion to a 
personal deity produces a great deal of energy; does it 
also give a satisfactory direction to the energy produced? 

1 See Tht Incredible Messiah, by Robert Allerton Parker (New 
York, 1937). 


A study of history shows that the results of ' ^ 

a personality are by no means necessarily good. Indeed, 
the energy developed by devotion to a person has been 
directed to undesirable ends almost as often as to desirable 
ones. That this should be so is, in the very nature of the 
case, only to be expected. Devotion to a human person 
who is still alive, but who has been deified by general 
acclaim, can hardly fail to be disastrous in the long run. 
Bhakti-marga in regard to an Alexander the Great, a 
Napoleon, a Hitler may begin by producing certain desir- 
able changes in the worshippers; but it cannot fail to 
produce degenerative changes in the person worshipped. 
* Power always corrupts,' wrote Lord Acton. * Absolute 
power absolutely corrupts. All great men are bad.* A 
deified man is morally ruined by the process of being 
worshipped. Those who adoringly obey and imitate him 
are making it inevitable, by their very adoration, that 
they shall obey and imitate a thoroughly bad, corrupted 

In cases where the adored man is no longer alive, 
adoration cannot corrupt its object. But even the best 
human persons have their defects and limitations; and to 
these, if they happen to be dead, must be added the defects 
and limitations of their biographers. Thus, according to 
his very inadequate biographers, Jesus of Nazareth was 
never preoccupied with philosophy, art, music, or science, 
and ignored almost completely the problems of politics, 
economics and sexual relations. It is also recorded of 
him that he blasted a fig-tree for not bearing fruit out of 
season, that he scourged the shopkeepers in the temple 
precincts and caused a herd of swine to drown. Scrupu- 
lous devotion to and imitation of the person of Jesus have 
resulted only too frequently in a fatal tendency, on the 
part of earnest Christians, to despise artistic creation and 
philosophic thought; to disparage the enquiring intelli- 



gence, to evade all long-range, large-scale problems of 
politics and economics, and to believe themselves justified 
in displaying anger, or, as they would doubtless prefer to 
call it, 'righteous indignation. 9 

In many cases devotion is directed, not to a living 
human person, nor to a human person who lived in the 
past, but to an eternal, omniscient, all-powerful God, who 
is regarded as being in some way a person. Even in this 
case bhakti-marga is apt to lead to unsatisfactory results. 
The theologians are at great pains to insist that the personal 
God is an absolutely perfect person; but, in spite of all 
their precautions, the deity tends to be thought of by his 
adorers as being like the only kind of person of whom 
they have direct knowledge that is to say, the human 
individual This natural tendency to conceive of a personal 
God as a being similar to a human person is especially 
prevalent among Christians brought up on the Old 
Testament In this remarkable compendium of Bronze- 
Age literature, God is personal to the point of being 
almost sub-human. Too often the believer has felt justified 
in giving way to his worst passions by the reflection that, 
in doing so, he is basing his conduct on that of a God 
who feels jealousy and hatred, cannot control his rage and 
behaves in general like a particularly ferocious oriental 
tyrant. The frequency with which men have identified 
the prompting of their own passions with the voice of an 
all-too-personal God is really appalling. The history of 
those sects which have believed that individuals could 
base their conduct upon the moment-to-moment guidance 
of a personal deity makes most depressing reading. From 
Thomas Schucker, the Swiss Anabaptist, who was divinely 
guided to cut off his brother's head, and who actually did 
so in the sight of a large audience, including his own 
father and mother, down to Smyth-Pigott, who believed 
that he was God and who fathered upon the parlour-maid 



two illegitimate children called respectively Power and 
Glory the long succession of divinely justified cranks and 
lunatics and criminals comes marching down through 
history into the present time. Belief in a personal God 
has released an enormous amount of energy directed 
towards good ends; but it has probably released an equal 
amount of energy directed towards ends that were silly, 
or mad, or downright evil. It has also led to that enormous 
over-valuation of the individual ego, which is so charac- 
teristic of Western popular philosophy. All the great 
religions have taught the necessity of transcending per- 
sonality; but the Christians have made it particularly 
difficult for themselves to act upon this teaching. They 
have accompanied the injunction that men should lose 
their lives in order to save them by the assertion that 
God himself is a person and that personal values are the 
highest that we can know. 

A personal deity tends to be regarded as completely 
transcendent, as somebody out there, apart from the per- 
cipient and different from him. At various times in the 
history of Christendom, thinkers have insisted with par- 
ticular emphasis upon the incommensurable otherness of 
God. Augustine, Calvin, Kierkegaard and, in our own 
day, Earth have dwelt emphatically and at length upon 
this theme. The doctrine of the complete transcendence 
and otherness of God is probably untrue and its results 
in the lives of those who believed it have always been 
-extremely undesirable. God being completely other is 
regarded as being capable of anything even (in Kierke- 
gaard's phrase) of the most monstrous 'teleological sus- 
pensions of morality/ Again, belief in the otherness of 
-God entails belief that grace alone is effective in procuring 
salvation and that works and a systematic cultivation of the 
inner life are useless. There is nothing fortuitous in the 
fact that the first and most ruthless capitalists were men 



brought up in the tradition of Calvinism. Believing that 
good works and the inner life were without any eternal 
significance, they gave up charity and self-education and 
turned all their attention to getting on in the world. 
Borrowing from the Old Testament the sordid doctrine 
that virtue deserves a material reward, they were able to 
amass wealth and oppress the poor with a thoroughly 
good conscience; their wealth, they were convinced, was 
a sign of God's favour, the other fellow's poverty, of 
moral turpitude. 

It would be possible to multiply such instances of the 
disastrous practical effects of wrong metaphysical beliefs. 
'All that we are,' writes the author of the Dhammapada^ 
*is the result of what we have thought/ If we think 
wrongly, our being and our actions will be unsatisfactory. 
Thus, the Aztecs believed that the sun was a living person 
who required for his food the blood of human victims. 
If the blood were not provided in sufficient quantities, the 
sun would die and all life on the earth would come to an 
end. Therefore the Aztecs had to devote a great part of 
their energy to making war in order that they might have 
enough prisoners to satisfy the sun's appetite. 

Another case. In the basement of the London Museum 
there hangs a broadsheet describing the trial in the late 
eighteen-thirties of two men who had been accused of 
homosexual practices. Condemning them, the judge 
pointed out that, by their crime, these two men were 
gravely endangering their country. Sodom had been 
destroyed because of sodomy. There was every reason 
to suppose that, if homosexuality were allowed to flourish 
there, London would suffer the same fate. It followed 
therefore that the two delinquents richly deserved their 
death. Accordingly it was ordered that they should be 
hanged on a different scaffold from that on which the other 
criminals were executed, lest by their presence they should 
Q 241 


somehow contaminate the relatively innocent murderers, 
coiners and housebreakers condemned at the same assize. 

Yet another instance. Hitlerian theology affirms that 
there is a Nordic race, inherently superior to all others. 
Hence it is right that Nordics should organize themselves 
for conquest and should do their best to exterminate 
people like the Jews, who are members of inferior races. 

It is worth remarking that, in all these cases, the pre- 
siding deity was personal. For the Aztecs the sun was a 
person, capable of feeling hunger for blood. The God, 
who, it was feared, would destroy London because of the 
sexual eccentricities of its male inhabitants, was the all-too- 
personal God of the Old Testament. Hitler's God is a 
rejuvenated version of the Kaiser's 'old German God* 
a divine person deeply concerned in the fate of Bismarck's 
empire and ready to fight on the side of its armies, as 
Athena fought on the side of the Greeks. Theological 
beliefs leading to undesirable conduct need not necessarily 
be associated with the dogma of the personality of God. 
But as a matter of historical fact, the more eccentric 
theological errors have very often been associated with a 
belief in God's personality. This is only natural. A 
person has passions and caprices; and it is therefore 
natural that he should do odd things clamour for the 
hearts of sacrificial victims, demand the persecution of the 
Jews, threaten destruction to whole cities because a few of 
their inhabitants happen to be homosexuals. 

The dangers of bhakd-marga are manifest; but un- 
fortunately the fact that its results are often pernicious 
does nothing to lessen its attractiveness to human beings 
of a certain psychological type. Many people enjoy the 
actual process of bhakti-marga too much to be able to pay 
any attention to its effects on themselves and on society 
at large. History shows that, where the emotional method 
has once taken root, it tends to remain in possession of 



the field. I have already mentioned the Bhagavata refor- 
mation whith so profoundly changed the nature of Indian 
religion during the Middle Ages. To this day bkakti- 
marga retains the popularity it won between the twelfth 
and the fifteenth centuries. Japanese Buddhism, as readers 
of The Tale of Genji will recall, had become in Lady 
Murasaki's day (at the beginning of the eleventh century) 
predominantly a religion of personal devotion. 'The 
Indian founder of Buddhism,' to quote Professor Geden, 
'was hardly more than a figure and a name/ Sakyamuni's 
religion, a combination of karma-marga "wiihjnana-marga, 
had been replaced by bhakti-marga directed towards Amida 
Buddha. 'A reform movement was initiated in Japan in 
the thirteenth century, the object of which was to reinstate 
Sakyamuni in the supreme place. It proved, however, an 
entire failure.' The way of devotion seemed more agree- 
able to the Japanese than the ways of knowledge and duty. 

In Christianity bhakti towards a personal being has 
always been the most popular form of religious practice. 
Up to the time of the Counter-Reformation, however, the 
way of knowledge ('mystical theology* as it is called in 
Christian language) was accorded an honourable place 
beside the way of devotion. From the middle of the 
sixteenth century onwards the way of knowledge came to 
be neglected and even condemned. We are told by 
Dom John Chapman that 'Mercurian, who was general 
of the society (of Jesus) from 1573 to 1580, forbade the 
use of the works of Tauler, Ruysbroeck, Suso, Harphius, 
St. Gertrude, and St Mechtilde.' Every effort was made 
by the Counter-Reformers to heighten the worshipper's 
devotion to a personal divinity. The literary content of 
baroque art is hysterical, almost epileptic, in the violence 
of its emotionality. It even becomes necessary to call in 
physiology as an aid to feeling. The ecstasies of the 
saints are represented by seventeenth-century artists as 


being frankly sexual Seventeenth-century drapery writhes 
like so much tripe. In the equivocal personage of Margaret 
Mary Alacocque, seventeenth-century piety pores over a 
bleeding and palpitating heart. From this orgy of emotion- 
alism and sensationalism Catholic Christianity seems never 
completely to have recovered. 

The significance of bhakd in its relation to cosmological 
belief is discussed in the next chapter. Our business 
here is only with its psychological and social aspects. 
Its results, as we have already seen, are generally good 
up to a certain point, but bad beyond that point. 
Nevertheless, bhakd is so enjoyable, especially to people 
of viscerotonic habit, that it is bound to survive. In our 
own day a majority of Europeans find it intellectually 
impossible to pay devotion to the supernatural persons 
who were the objects of worship during the Counter- 
Reformation period. But the desire to worship persists, 
the process of worshipping still retains its attraction. The 
masses continue to tread the path of devotion; but the 
objects of this bhakd are no longer saints and a personal 
God; they are the personified nation or class, and the 
deified Leader. The change is wholly for the worse. 

It is clear that, given the existence of viscerotonic and 
somatotonic types, religious practices of the emotional and 
physiological kind will always be popular. Physiological 
practices can adapt themselves to almost any sort of belief. 
The emotional method, on the other hand, inevitably 
imposes upon those who practise it a personalistic theology. 
Those who enjoy bhakd can never be persuaded to give 
up their pleasurable practices and the belief correlated 
with them. In these circumstances, what is the rational 
idealist to do? So far as I can see, he has two main tasks. 
He must do his best to advertise the fact that the physio- 
logical and the emotional are not the only methods of 

Ugious self-education, and especially that there is an 



alternative to bhakti and the almost certainly false beliefs 
with which bhakd is always associated. Owing to the 
disparagement during recent centuries of mystical theology, 
or the way of knowledge, many religiously minded 
Europeans are not even aware that an alternative to bhakti 
exists. The existence of that alternative must be pro- 
claimed and its practical uses and cosmological implications 
set forth. The second task before the rational idealist is 
the harder of the two. Accepting as inevitable the con- 
tinued existence of a large residuum of practisers of 
bhakti-marga, he will have to do all in his power to turn 
this irrepressible stream of bhakd into the channels in 
which it will do the least mischief. For example, it is 
manifest that bhakd directed towards deified leaders and 
personified nations, classes or parties must result in evil, 
not only for society, but ultimately (whatever the im- 
mediate good effects in regard to the minor virtues) for the 
individual as well. To repeat this obvious fact in and out 
of season is perhaps the most wearisome but also the most 
necessary of the tasks which the rational idealist must 
undertake. Towards the transcendental religions his atti- 
tude should be discriminatingly critical. The point that 
he must always remember and of which he must remind 
the world is that, whenever God is thought of, in 
Aristotle's phrase, as the commander-in-chief rather than 
as the order of the army as a transcendent person rather 
than as an immanent-and-also-transcendent principle of 
integration persecution always tends to arise. It is an 
extremely significant fact that, before the coming of the 
Mohammedans, there was virtually no persecution in India. 
The Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang, who visited India in 
the first half of the seventh century and has left a circum- 
stantial account of his fourteen-year stay in the country, 
makes it clear that Hindus and Buddhists lived side by 
side without any show of violence. Each party attempted 



the conversion of the other; but the methods used were 
those of persuasion and argument, not those of force. 
Neither Hinduism nor Buddhism is disgraced by any* 
thing corresponding to the Inquisition; neither was ever 
guilty of such iniquities as the Albigensian crusade or such 
criminal lunacies as the religious wars of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries. The Moslems who invaded India 
brought with them the idea of a God who was not the 
order of the army of being, but its general. Bhakti towards 
this despotic person was associated with wholesale slaughter 
of Buddhists and Hindus. Similarly bhakti towards the 
personal God of Christianity has been associated, through- 
out the history of that religion, with the wholesale slaughter 
of pagans and the retail torture and murder of heretics. 
It is the business of the rational idealist to harp continually 
upon this all-important fact. In this way, perhaps, he may 
be able to mitigate the evil tendencies which history shows 
to be inherent in the way of devotion and the correlated 
belief in a personal deity. 

It has been necessary to dwell at considerable length on 
the subject of the emotional method of religious self- 
education, for the good reason that this method possessed, 
and still possesses, very great historical importance. To 
the third method of religious self-education, the method 
of meditation, I must also devote a good deal of space. 
It is important not only historically, because of its influence 
on the affairs of men, but also metaphysically, because of 
the light it throws on the nature of ultimate reality. With 
its metaphysical significance I shall deal in the next chapter. 
In this place I am concerned mainly with the social and 
psychological results of the methods. 1 

1 For further information on the subject consult A. Tillyard, 
Religious Exercises; Bede Frost, The An of Mental Prayer; and the 
anonymous Concentration and Meditation, published by the Buddhist 
Lodge, London. All these contain bibliographies. 



The method of meditation has often been used in con- 
junction with the emotional and physiological methods. 
In its purest form, however, it would seem to be quite 
independent of either. It is possible for meditation to be 
practised by those who are neither extreme ascetics nor 
Hatha-Yogis, and also by those who do not believe in a 
personal God. Indeed, it might even be argued that it is 
impossible for those who do believe in a personal God 
ever adequately to practise meditation or to have a genuine 
mystical experience. Of this I shall have more to say 
later. Meanwhile, we must concern ourselves with the 
practical aspects of the subject. From a humanistic point 
of view, what precisely is the point and purpose of medi- 
tation? The following words from Professor Irving 
Babbitt's very valuable essay on Buddha and the Occident 
supply the answer. * We come here to what is for Buddha 
fundamental in religion. To many things that have been 
regarded as indispensable by other faiths for example, 
prayer and belief in a personal deity he grants a secondary 
place or even no place at all; but without the act of re- 
collection or spiritual concentration he holds that the 
religious life cannot subsist at all.' Speaking of Buddhist 
love and compassion, Professor Babbitt remarks that they 
can, like Nirvana, 'be understood only in connection with 
the special form of activity that is put forth in meditation. 
Buddhist love does not well forth spontaneously from the 
natural man, but is, like Christian charity, the super- 
natural virtue par excellence. The current confusion on 
this point is perhaps the most striking outcome of the 
sentimentalism of the eighteenth century, and of the 
emotional romanticism of the nineteenth century that 
prolonged it. This confusion may be defined psycho- 
logically as a tendency to substitute for a super-rational 
concentration of will a sub-rational expansion of feeling/ 
The function, then, of meditation is to help a man to 



piit forth a special quality of will. ('Meditation,' says San 
Pedro de Alcantara, "is nothing but a discourse addressed 
by the intellect to the will/) This special quality of will, 
which is peculiar to man, must be regarded as a fact of 
observation and experience. How shall this fact be ex- 
plained? The Christian, as Babbitt points out, explains it 
in terms of divine grace, as something imparted from some 
supernatural source existing outside the individual. The 
Buddhist affirms that 'self is the lord of self' and sees the 
super-rational will as something latent in the individual 
psyche, a potentiality that any man, if he so desires and 
knows how, can actualize either in his present existence or 
(more probably, since the road to enlightenment is long 
and steep) in some future life. We see, then, that from a 
humanistic point of view, meditation is a particularly 
effective method of self-education. 

Rites and ceremonials are essentially social activities. 
(The person who wishes to perform rites in private is 
generally the victim of a compulsion neurosis, which 
forces him, as Dr. Johnson was forced, to live his life to 
the accompaniment of elaborate gesticulations and formulas.) 
They provide, among other things, a mechanism by means 
of which people having a common emotional concern may 
have their sense of solidarity revived. Ritual is a kind of 
emotional cement which can give cohesion to great masses 
of people. 

Physiological religion may be either solitary or social. 
Thus, considerable numbers of individuals can take part in 
a religious dance; but where the training is by means of 
ascetic practices or the acquisition of conscious control 
over hitherto unconscious physical processes, it must in 
the nature of things be solitary. 

In the same way emotional religion may be either solitary 
or social. The attempt to establish an emotional relation- 
ship with a divine person may be made either alone or in 



the company of others. In the latter case some form of 
ritual is frequently made to serve, as it were, as a channel 
along which the shared emotion of the worshippers may 
flow towards its object 

Meditation is generally practised in solitude; but there 
is also such a thing as group meditation. The conditions 
for successful group meditation are as follows. First, the 
group must not exceed a certain size, otherwise it is ex- 
tremely unlikely that its members will attain to that in- 
tuition of solidarity with one another and with something 
greater than themselves, which it is the purpose of group 
meditation to achieve. Second, the individuals composing 
the group must be exercised in the art of recollection and 
have some experience of its good results. A group into 
which children are admitted, or which contains adults 
who, however well intentioned, do not know how to 
practise recollection, nor what is its value when practised, 
is practically certain to achieve nothing. Neglecting to 
study the psychology of their religion, the Quakers have 
often made the mistake of attempting group meditation in 
meetings of unwieldy size, disturbed by die presence of 
fidgeting children and untrained adults. Such meetings 
are almost always a failure. Not all Quaker meetings, 
however, are failures. Where conditions are favourable, 
the purpose of group meditation is still achieved, just as 
it was in the early days of Quakerism. Group meditation 
is known among the Hinayana Buddhists of Ceylon and 
the Mahayana Buddhists of Tibet. In Japan the Zen monks 
practise recollection all together, each in his appointed 
place in the meditation hail of the monastery. Group 
meditation is also practised by certain Moslem dervishes 
in Asia Minor or at least was practised by them, until 
Kemal Ataturk saw fit, a few years ago, to hang them all. 

It is worth while, in this context, to expand a statement 
made in an earlier chapter to the effect that all dictators 



and, in general, all politically minded reformers, are pro- 
foundly distrustful of the mystic. The reason for this is 
not far to seek. ' Religion,' in Professor Whitehead's 
words, 'is world loyalty/ There is a * connection between 
universality and solitariness/ inasmuch as 'universality 
is a disconnection from immediate surroundings/ But 
disconnection from immediate surroundings is precisely 
what the politician, especially the dictatorial politician who 
thinks in terms of class and nation, cannot tolerate. All 
the dictators, whatever their colour, have attacked religion. 
Where the dictatorship is revolutionary, this hostility to 
religion is due in part to the fact that, as a political institution, 
the Church is generally on the side of the vested interests. 
But even where, as in Germany, the dictatorship supports 
and is supported by the vested interests, hostility to 
religion is hardly less intense than in countries where the 
dictatorship is revolutionary. In Italy, it is true, Mussolini 
has made his peace with the Church but has made it on 
his own terms. The Church has received a few square 
miles of independent territory; but Mussolini has taken in 
exchange the Church's influence over the Italian mind. 
Italy, then, is only an apparent exception to the rule. Any 
religion whether theistic, pantheistic or, like Buddhism, 
atheistic which trains men to be non-attached to the 
'things of this world* and which teaches them loyalty to 
the integrating principle of the universe is anathema to 
the dictator, who demands of his subjects intense attach- 
ment, in the form of a frenzied nationalism, and a loyalty 
addressed exclusively to himself and the State of which he 
is the head. The dictator and, in general, the politician 
cannot admit an individual's right to universality and 
solitariness. He demands that all men shall be passionately 
gregarious and parochial. Hence Hitler's persecution of 
Christians, Protestant and Catholic alike; hence Russia's 
anti-God campaigns; hence the liquidation of the mystical 



sects of dervishes, not only by Kemal, but also by Ibn 
Saud; hence Mussolini's machiavellian use of religion as 
an instrument of government, hence his policy of making 
God play second fiddle to Caesar, hence the care he takes 
that the young shall not be taught monotheistic world 
loyalty, but only loyalty to the local idols, the nation, 
the Party and himself. 1 

1 In Japan the ruling classes have used the technique of meditation 
to train die will in the service of militarism. Naval cadets were, 
perhaps still are, put through a course of Zen mind-training. Like 
all other instruments, this method can be misused by those who wish 
to do so. 

Chapter XIV 

IN the preceding chapters I have posed and attempted 
to answer three questions. First: what do we want to 
become? Second: what are we now? Third: how do we 
propose to pass from our present condition to the condition 
we desire to reach? Of these three questions, the third has 
been answered methodically, in a series of more or less 
elaborate discussions of ways and means. The second has 
been answered incidentally at different stages of these dis- 
cussions. The first, it will be remembered, was asked in 
the opening chapter and received only die briefest and most 
categorical answers. In what follows I propose to examine 
those answers to consider the social ideals of the prophets 
and the personal ideals of the founders of religions in the 
light of what we know about the world. All that we are, 
is the result of what we have thought/ Men live in accord- 
ance with their philosophy of life, their conception of the 
world. This is true even of the most thoughtless. It is 
impossible to live without a metaphysic. The choice that 
is given us is not between some kind of raetaphysic and no 
metaphysic; it is always between a good metaphysic and 
a bad metaphysic, a metaphysic that corresponds reason- 
ably closely with observed and inferred reality and one 
that doesn't. Logically, this discussion of the nature 
of the world should have preceded the discussion of the 
practical ways and means for modifying ourselves and 
the society in which we live. But the arrangement that 
is logically most correct is not always the most con- 
venient. For various reasons it has seemed to be 



expedient to reserve this discussion of first principles 
to the last chapters. 

Let us begin by a summary, in the most general terms, 
of what we know about the world we live in. Science, in 
Meyerson's phrase, is the reduction of diversity to identity. 1 
The diverse, the brute irrational fact, is given by our senses. 
But we are not content to accept diversity as so given. We 
have a hunger and thirst for explanation and, for the human 
mind, explanation consists in the discovery of identity 
behind diversity. Any theory which postulates the exist- 
ence of identities behind diversities strikes us as being 
intrinsically plausible. 

Nature seems to satisfy the mind's craving; for, upon 
investigation, it turns out that identities do in fact underlie 
apparent diversity. But explanation in these terms is never 
quite complete. The facts of sensation and of irreversible 
change in time are irrationals which cannot be completely 
rationalized by reduction to identity. Science recognizes 
the specificity of things as well as their underlying sameness. 
Hegel's mistake was to imagine that nature was wholly 
rational and therefore deducible a -priori. It would be 
convenient if this were the case; but unfortunately it 

The diversity of the material world has been reduced, so 
far as such reduction is possible, to an ultimate identity. 
All matter, according to the physicist, is built up, in a 
limited number of patterns, out of units of energy which, 
in isolation, seem to possess none of the qualities ordinarily 
associated with matter in the mass. Between a billion sub- 
atomic units and one sub-atomic unit there is a difference, 
not only of quantity, but also of quality. The natural 
sciences, such as physics, chemistry, biology, are concerned 
with matter as built up into varying degrees of patterned 
complexity. The specificity of things, immediately per- 
1 See Chapter II. 


ctived by our senses, is found to be correlated with the 
number and the arrangement of ultimate units of energy. 

The material universe is pictured by science as composed 
of a diversity of patterns of a single substance. Common 
sense arbitrarily selects certain packets of patterned energy- 
units and regards them as separate, individual existents. 
This proceeding would seem to be entirely unjustifiable. 
So-called separate, individual existents are dependent upon 
one another for their very being. They are interconnected 
by a network of relationships electro-magnetic, gravi- 
tational, chemical and, in the case of sentient beings, mental. 
That network gives them their being and reality. An indi- 
vidual existent is nothing except in so far as it is a part of 
a larger whole. In other words, it is not an individual 
existent. The things we ordinarily call objects or indi- 
viduals a tree, a man, a table are not * concrete realities/ 
as the romantic anti-intellectuals would have us believe. 
They are abstractions from a reality that consists, as sys- 
tematic investigation reveals, of a network of relations 
between the interdependent parts of an incalculably greater 
whole. A man, for example, is what he is only in virtue of 
his relationship with the surrounding universe. His entire 
existence is conditioned by his neighbourhood to the earth, 
with its powerful gravitational field; radiations of many 
kinds make him dependent on distant heavenly bodies; he 
is the locus of a continuous process of chemical exchange; 
mentally, he is related to and conditioned by the minds of 
his contemporaries and predecessors. The common-sense 
claim that we live among, and ourselves are, independent 
existents is based upon ignorance. In present circum- 
stances, however, those who insist on talking of men and 
women as though they were 'concrete* independent exist- 
ents can excuse themselves on the ground that such a 
description, though incorrect, is less misleading than that 
of the political theorists who consider that human beings 


should be sacrificed to such entities as 'the nation/ 'the 
state/ 'the party/ 'the destiny of the race* and so on. The 
truth is that there are many different levels of abstraction 
from reality. The entities with which political theory deals 
belong to a higher order of abstraction than do the separate, 
individual existents of common sense are more remote, 
that is to say, from concrete reality, which consists of the 
interdependent parts of a totality. The monstrous evils 
which arise when remote abstractions, like * nation* and 
'state* are regarded as realities more concrete and of greater 
significance than human beings maybe remedied, in some 
measure, by the insistence on the relative concreteness of 
individual men and women. But this last doctrine is itself 
the source of very great evils, which cannot be remedied 
until we recognize, and choose to act upon, the truth that 
the ' individual * is also an abstraction from reality. Separate, 
individual existents are illusions of common sense. Scien- 
tific investigation reveals (and these findings, as we shall 
see later on, are confirmed by the direct intuition of the 
trained mystic and contemplative) that concrete reality con- 
sists of the interdependent parts of a totality and that 
independent existents are merely abstractions from that 

Recent scientific investigations have made it clear that 
the world of sense experience and of common sense is only 
a small part of the world as a whole. It is small for two 
reasons : first, because we are confined to a particular point 
in space and have scarcely any knowledge by direct acquain- 
tance and little knowledge even by inference of the con- 
ditions prevailing in distant parts of the universe; second, 
because the organs by means of which we establish direct 
communication with the outside world are incapable of 
apprehending the whole of reality. This second limitation 
is of more significance than the first. Even if we were able 
to make voyages of exploration through interstellar space, 


*we should still be incapable of seeing electromagnetic 
vibrations shorter than those we now perceive as violet or 
longer than those of which we are conscious as red. We 
should still be unable actually to see or feel even so large an 
object as a molecule. The shortest instant of time per- 
ceptible to us would still be a large fraction of a second. 
We should still be stone deaf to all sounds above a certain 
pitch. We should still be without the faculties that enable 
migrating birds to find their way. And so on. Every 
animal species inhabits a home-made universe, hollowed out 
of the real world by means of its organs of perception and 
its intellectual faculties. In man's case the intellectual facul- 
ties are so highly developed that he is able, unlike the other 
animals, to infer the existence of the larger world enclosing 
his private universe. He cannot see beyond the violet; but 
he knows by inference that ultra-violet radiations exist and 
he is even able to make practical use of these radiations 
which sense and common sense assure him do not exist. 
The universe in which we do our daily living is the product 
of our limitations. We ourselves have made it, selecting it 
(because we wished to or were incapable of doing other- 
wise) from a total reality much larger than, and qualitatively 
different from, the universe of common sense. To this 
most important of fundamental scientific discoveries I shall 
have occasion to return, in another context, later on. 

So much for the scientific picture of the material world. 
The scientific picture of mind is unfortunately much less 
clearly outlined. Indeed, there is no single scientific picture 
of mind; there are several irreconcilably different pictures. 
Some scientific investigators insist that mind is merely an 
epiphenomenon of matter; that the brain secretes thought 
as die liver secretes bile; that the very notion of conscious- 
ness can be discarded altogether and that all mental activity 
can be explained in terms of conditioned reflexes; that the 
mind is nothing but an instrument, forged during the course 



of evolution, for securing food, sexual satisfaction and the 
conditions of physical survival. Others, on the contrary, 
argue that the phenomena investigated by science are to a 
considerable extent constructs of the investigating con- 
sciousness; that mind cannot be determined by a 'matter 9 
which is itself in part a creation of mind; that mind is a 
fundamental reality in the universe and is consequently able 
to pass valid judgments about the nature of the world ; that 
the laws of thought are also laws of things. Which of these 
two parties is in the right? In this context one fact emerges 
as highly significant. All men of science, whatever their 
views, consistently act as though they believed in the ability 
of the human intellect, using the method of logic, to make 
true judgments about the nature of the world. Such is the 
behaviour even of the Behaviourist. But, according to his 
own theory, the Behaviourist (like the other disparagers of 
mind) has no right to behave in this way. If mind is merely 
an epiphenomenon of matter, if consciousness is completely 
determined by physical motions, if the intellect is only a 
machine for securing food and sexual pleasure, then there 
is absolutely no reason for supposing that any theory pro- 
duced by this instrument can have universal validity. If 
Behaviourism, for example, is correct, there is no reason 
for supposing that the mind can make any kind of vaHd 
judgment about the world. But among judgments about 
the world figures the theory of Behaviourism. Therefore, 
if Behaviourism is correct, there is no reason for attaching 
the slightest importance to the opinions, among others, of 
Behaviourists. In dther words, if Behaviourism is correct, 
it is probable that Behaviourism is incorrect. 

All who advance theories of mind containing the words 
'nothing but,' tend to involve themselves in this kind of 
contradiction. The very fact that they formulate theories 
which they believe to have general validity, the very fact 
that, having studied a few phenomena (which are anyhow 


not phenomena but 'epiphenomena,' facts of consciousness) 
they should feel themselves justified in making inductions 
about all phenomena past, present and future, constitutes 
in itself a sufficient denial of the validity of 'nothing-but* 
judgments concerning the nature of the mind. All science 
is based upon an act of faith faith in the validity of the 
mind's logical processes, faith in the ultimate expKcability 
of the world, faith that the laws of thought are laws of 
things. In practice, I repeat, if not always in theory, such 
conceptions are fundamental to all scientific activity. For 
the rest, scientists are opportunists. They will pass from 
a common-sense view of the world to advanced idealist 
theories, making use of one or the other according to the 
field of study in which they are at work. Unfortunately, 
few scientists in these days of specialization are ever called 
upon to work in more than one small field of study. Hence 
there is a tendency on the part of individual specialists to 
accept as true particular theories which are in fact only 
temporarily convenient. It is highly unfortunate that so 
few scientists are ever taught anything about the meta- 
physical foundations of science. 

Recent research in medicine, in experimental psychology 
and in what is still called parapsychology has thrown some 
light on the nature of mind and its position in the world* 
During the last forty years the conviction has steadily grown 
among medical men that very many cases of disease, organic 
as well as functional, are directly caused by mental states. 
The body becomes ill because the mind controlling it either 
secretly wants to make it ill, or else because it is in such a 
state of agitation that it cannot prevent the body from 
sickening. Whatever its physical nature, resistance to 
disease is unquestionably correlated with the psychological 
condition of the patient 1 That even so grossly * physical' 

1 For the physical basis of resistance, see The Nature of Disease^ 
by J. E. R. McDonagh, F.R.C.S. 


a complaint as dental caries may be due to mental causes 
was maintained in a paper read before the American Dental 
Congress in 1937. The author pointed out that children 
living on a perfectly satisfactory diet may still suffer from 
dental decay. In such cases, investigation generally shows 
that the child's life at home or at school is in some way 
unsatisfactory. The teeth decay because their owner is 
under mental strain. 

Mind not only makes sick, it also cures. An optimistic 
patient has more chance of getting well than a patient who 
is worried and unhappy. The recorded instances of faith- 
healing include cases in which even organic diseases were 
cured almost instantaneously. 

Experimenters in hypnotism have shown that it is pos- 
sible to raise a blister by merely telling a deeply hypnotized 
subject that he is being burnt. The metal which touches 
the skin is cold; but the subject feels pain and displays all 
the physical symptoms of a burn. Conversely, hypnotism 
can be used to produce anaesthesia, even in major opera- 
tions. Thus, in the late forties of last century, James 
Esdaile performed over two hundred operations upon 
patients anaesthetized by means of hypnosis. Esdaile's 
surgical technique was pre-Listerian; nevertheless, the mor- 
tality among his hypnotized patients was extremely low. 

Systematic researches designed to demonstrate the exist- 
ence of telepathy have been conducted at intervals during 
the last fifty years. Of these the most recent and the most 
considerable are those which Professor Rhine has been 
carrying out at Duke University in North Carolina. Rhine's 
work, which has been successfully repeated by several other 
investigators, leaves no doubt as to the existence of tele- 
pathy and clairvoyance and very little doubt as to the exist- 
ence of pre-vision. In his presidential address delivered 
before the Society for Psychical Research in 1936, Pro- 
fessor C. D. Broad discusses the problems raised by tele- 


pathy. How does telepathy work? That it is not a 
physical process akin to radio transmission is obvious; for 
the strength of the messages does not diminish with distance. 
After discussing various other alternatives, Professor Broad 
concludes that it is probably necessary to postulate the 
existence of some kind of purely mental medium, in which 
individual minds are bathed, as in a kind of non-physical 
ether. If there is such a thing as pre- vision, we must pre- 
sume diat this mental medium has its existence outside time. 
It would seem, then, that mind, or at any rate something of 
a mental nature a * psychic factor* within a psychic 
medium exists independently of the body and of the 
spatial and temporal conditions of bodily life. 

I have considered the scientific picture of the material 
world and the scientific pictures of mind. It is now time to 
consider the scientific picture of the history of this mental- 
material conglomerate. The only part of die universe with 
which we have direct acquaintance is this planet. It is also 
the only part of the universe in which we can study life and 
consciousness. How far are we justified in drawing infer- 
ences about the general nature of things from the inferences 
previously drawn from the rather scanty evidence about 
the history of life on this planet? It is hard indeed to say. 
We have seen that matter on the earth seems to be built 
up from the same energy-units as constitute matter in 
remote parts of the universe and that the laws of thought 
are laws of things, not only here, but, to all appearance, also 
there. This being so, to generalize from our inferences 
regarding the nature of our planetary history would seem 
to be a process that is at any rate not completely illegitimate. 
Meanwhile, however, we have to discover what the nature 
of that history is. 

I am not qualified to discuss the methods of evolution, 
nor, in the present context, does there seem to be any good 
reason for embarking upon such a discussion. For our 



particular purposes, the results of evolution are more signifi- 
cant than the mechanism by which those results were 
achieved. In regard to this mechanism, the evidence avail- 
able seems to point to the conclusion that mutation, hybrid- 
ization, retardation of growth and fcetalization (which are 
themselves the products of mutation), and natural selection 
are sufficient to account for evolutionary change and that 
it is unnecessary to invoke such concepts as orthogenesis 
or .the inheritance of acquired characters. Lamarckism has 
often been supported by those who are anxious to vindicate 
the pre-eminence of mind in the world. But, as Haldane 
has pointed out, these crusaders are really doing a dis- 
service to their cause. If characters acquired as the result 
of more or less intelligently directed effort are inherited, 
then we should expect evolution to be a rapid process. But 
in fact it is extremely slow. If evolution is due to 4 cunning* 
rather than 'luck/ then the cunning must be of a pretty 
feeble kind ; for it has brought life a relatively short way 
in a very long time. In fact, the evidence for Lamarckism 
is extremely inadequate. (Neither Lamarckism nor the 
orthogenetics theory seems to be compatible with the fact 
that most mutations are demonstrably deleterious.) Mind, 
as we know, can affect the body profoundly and in a great 
variety of ways. But, as a matter of empirical fact, this 
power of affecting the body is limited. To modify the 
arrangement of the genes must be numbered, it would 
seem, among the things it cannot do. 

There is only one other point in regard to the mechanism 
of selection about which I need speak in the present context. 
Competition, when it exists, is of two kinds: between 
members of different species (inter-specific) and between 
members of the same species (intra-specific). Intra-spccific 
selection is commoner among abundant species than among 
species with a small membership and plays a more important 
part in their evolution. Many of the results of natural 



selection are demonstrably deleterious, and this is found to 
be the case above all where the selection has been brought 
about by intra-specific competition. For example, intra- 
specific competition leads to an excessively precise adapta- 
tion to a given set of circumstances in other words, to 
excessive specialization which, as we shall see later on, is 
always inimical to genuine biological progress. Haldane 
regards all intra-specific competition as being, on the whole, 
biologically evil. Competition between adults of the same 
species tends to 'render the species as a whole less success- 
ful in coping with its environment. . . . The special adapta- 
tions favoured by intra-specific competition divert a certain 
amount of energy from other functions/ Man has now 
little to fear from competition with other species. His 
worst enemies outside his own species are insects and 
bacteria; and even with these he has been, and doubtless 
will continue to be, able to deal successfully. For man, 
competition is now predominantly intra-specific. A dis- 
passionate analysis of the circumstances in which the human 
race now lives makes it clear that most of this intra-specific 
competition is not imposed by any kind of biological neces- 
sity, but is entirely gratuitous and voluntary. In other 
words, we are wantonly and deliberately pursuing a policy 
which we need not pursue and which we have the best 
scientific reasons for supposing to be disastrous to the 
species as a whole. We are using our intelligence to adapt 
ourselves more and more effectively to the modern con- 
ditions of intra-specific competition. We are doing our 
best to develop a militaristic 'hypertely, 9 to become, in 
other words, dangerously specialised in the art of killing 
our fellows. 

Evolution has resulted in the world as we know it to- 
day. Is there any reason for regarding this world as superior 
to the world of earlier geological epochs? In other words, 
can evolution be regarded as a genuine progress? These 



questions can be answered, with perfect justification, in the 
affirmative. Certain properties, which it is impossible not 
to regard as valuable, have been developed in the course of 
evolution. The lower forms of life persist more or less 
unchanged; but among the higher forms there has been a 
definite trend towards greater control and greater independ- 
ence of the physical environment. Beings belonging to the 
highest forms of life have increased their capacity for self- 
regulation, have created an internal environment capable of 
remaining stable throughout very great changes in the 
outer world, have equipped themselves with elaborate 
machinery for picking up knowledge of the outer world, as 
well as of the inner, and have developed a wonderfully 
effective instrument for dealing with that knowledge. 
Evolutionary progress is of two kinds: general, all-round 
progress and one-sided progress in a particular direction. 
This last leads to specialization. From the evidence pro- 
vided by the study of fossils and living forms, we are justi- 
fied in inferring that any living form which has gone in for 
one-sided progress thereby makes it impossible for itself to 
achieve generalized progress. Nothing fails like success; 
and creatures which have proved eminently successful in 
specializing themselves to perform one sort of task and to 
live in one sort of environment are by that very fact 
foredoomed to ultimate failure. 

Failure may take the form of extinction, or alternatively, 
of survival and adaptive radiation into forms that reach a 
relatively stable position and become incapable of further 
development, since such development would imperil the 
equilibrium existing between the living creature and its 
environment. Only one species, of all the millions that 
exist and have existed, has hitherto resisted the temptation 
to specialize. Sooner or later all the rest have succumbed 
and have thus put themselves out of the running in the 
evolutionary race. This is true even of the mammals. 



After achieving a stable inner environment, placental and, 
in some cases, monotocous birth, highly developed sense 
organs, and a weH co-ordinated nervous system, all but one 
proceeded to specialize and so to shut themselves off from 
the possibility of further progress. Man alone kept him- 
self free from specialization and was therefore able to go 
on progressing in the direction of greater awareness, greater 
intelligence, greater control over environment. Moreover, 
alone of all Itong beings upon this planet he is in a position 
to advance from his present position. If man were to 
become extinct, it seems certain that no other existing 
animal would be able to develop into a being comparable 
to man for control over or independence of environment, 
for capacity te know the world and its own mind. 

What are the general conclusions to be drawn from the 
scientific picture of life's history on this planet? There is 
no need, in this context, to consider any of the lower forms 
of fife. It is enough to point out, for example, that cold- 
bloodedness limits the power of any animal to become 
independent of its environment; that effective control over 
the environment is impossible for animals of less than a 
certain size; that some animals are not only too small but 
are predestined, as the arthropods are predestined by their 
system of tradbeal breathing, to remain small to the end of 
the chapter; that absolute smallness limits the size of the 
nervous system and so, apparently, of the amount of mental 
power which any animal can dispose of. And so forth. We 
can sum the matter up by saying that progress can be 
achieved only by die highest types of animal life. 

Even among these highest types evolution can continue 
to be a genuine progress only when certain conditions are 
fulfilled. Let us enumerate the most important of these 

First of all, an organism must advance, so to speak, along 
the whole biological front and not with one part of itself or 


in one particular direction only. One-sided specialized 
advance is incompatible with genuine progress. But one- 
sided specialist advance is encouraged, as we have seen, by 
intra-specific competition. This brings us to the second of 
our conditions, which is that intra-specific competition shall 
be reduced to a minimum. Progress is dependent on the 
preponderance of intra-specific co-operation over intra- 
specific competition. Other things being equal, that species 
will make most progress whose members are least com- 
bative, most inclined to work together instead of against 
one another. The third condition of biological progress is 
intelligence. There can be no effective co-operation on any 
level above the instinctive except among creatures which 
are aware of one another's needs and are able to communi- 
cate with one another. (It is worth noting that intelligence 
cannot be developed except on the fulfilment of certain 
physiological and mechanical conditions. These conditions 
have been set forth by Elliot Smith and other authorities. 
For example, among the conditions of human intelligence 
must be numbered man's erect carriage and the consequent 
development of the hand.) 

Intelligence is essential; but intelligence cannot function 
properly where it is too often or too violently interfered 
with by the emotions, impulses and emotionally charged 
sensations. The sensations most heavily charged with emo- 
tional content are sensations of smell. Man's sense of smell 
is relatively poor and this apparent handicap has proved to 
be an actual advantage to him. 1 Instead of running round 
like a dog, sniffing at lamp-posts and becoming deeply 
agitated by what he smells on them, man is able to stand 
away from the world and use his eyes and his wits, relatively 
unmoved. Nor is this all. His power of inhibiting emotion 

1 Elliot Smith has shown that the parts of the human brain cor- 
related with the higher intellectual functions have developed at the 
expense of the olfactory centre. 



once aroused is evidently much greater than that of most 
other animals. When a human baby was brought up with 
a baby chimpanzee (see The Ape and the Child, by Professor 
and Mrs. Kellogg), it was found that the chimpanzee's 
intelligence, at least during the first eighteen months of life, 
was more or less equal to the human's. On the contrary, 
its power of inhibiting emotion was far lower and it was 
consequently unable very often to make use of its intelli- 
gence. (For example, when its parents went away, the 
baby would cry for a few minutes, then settle down cheer- 
fully to play; the ape would be inconsolable for several 
hours, during which it was incapable of doing anything 
else but grieve.) Animals are almost as heavily handi- 
capped by excess of emotionality as by a lack of intelligence. 
It is this excess of emotionality which has made it impossible 
for all animals except man to pass from emotional to con* 
ceptual speech. Beasts can make noises expressive of their 
feelings; but they cannot make noises which stand for 
objects and ideas as such, objects and ideas considered apart 
from the desires and emotions they arouse. Conceptual 
speech made possible the development of disinterested 
thinking, and the capacity to think disinterestedly was 
responsible for the development of conceptual speech. 

No account of the scientific picture of the world and its 
history would be complete unless it contained a reminder 
of the fact, frequently forgotten by scientists themselves, 
that this picture does not even claim to be comprehensive. 
From the world we actually live in, the world that is given 
by our senses, our intuitions of beauty and goodness, our 
emotions and impulses, our moods and sentiments, the man 
of science abstracts a simplified private universe of things 
possessing only those qualities which used to be called 
* primary.' Arbitrarily, because it happens to be convenient ; 
because his methods do not allow him to deal with the 
immense complexity of reality, he selects from the whole 



of experience only those elements which can be weighed, 
measured, numbered, or which lend themselves in any 
other way to mathematical treatment. By using this 
technique of simplification and abstraction, the scientist has 
succeeded to an astonishing degree in understanding and 
dominating the physical environment. The success was 
intoxicating and, with an illogicality which, in the circum- 
stances, was doubtless pardonable, many scientists and 
philosophers came to imagine that this useful abstraction 
from reality was reality itself. Reality as actually experi- 
enced contains intuitions of value and significance, contains 
love, beauty, mystical ecstasy, intimations of godhead. 
Science did not and still does not possess intellectual 
instruments with which to deal with these aspects of reality. 
Consequently it ignored them and concentrated its atten- 
tion upon such aspects of the world as it could deal with 
by means of arithmetic, geometry and the various branches 
of higher mathematics. Our conviction that the world is 
meaningless is due in part to the fact (discussed in a later 
paragraph) that the philosophy of meaninglessness lends 
itself very effectively to furthering the ends of erotic or 
political passion; in part to a genuine intellectual error 
the error of identifying the world of science, a world from 
which all meaning and value has been deliberately excluded, 
with ultimate reality. It is worth while to quote in this 
context the words with which Hume closes his Enquiry i 
'If we take in our hand any volume of divinity, or school 
metaphysics, for instance let us ask, Does it contain any 
abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. 
Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning 
matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the 
flames; for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illu- 
sion/ Hume mentions only divinity and school meta- 
physics; but his argument would apply just as cogently to 
poetry, music, painting, sculpture and all ethical and reli- 



gious teaching. Hamlet contains no abstract reasoning 
concerning quantity or number and no experimental reason 
concerning evidence; nor does the Hammerklavier Sonata, 
nor Donatello's David, nor the Too Te Ching y nor The 
Following of Christ. Commit them therefore to the flames : 
for they can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion. 

We are living now, not in the delicious intoxication 
induced by the early successes of science, but in a rather 
grisly morning-after, when it has become apparent that 
what triumphant science has done hitherto is to improve 
the means for achieving unimproved or actually deteriorated 
ends. In this condition of apprehensive sobriety we are 
able to see that the contents of literature, art, music even 
in some measure of divinity and school metaphysics are 
not sophistry and illusion, but simply those elements of 
experience which scientists chose to leave out of account, 
for the good reason that they had no intellectual methods 
for dealing with them. In the arts, in philosophy, in reli- 
gion men are trying doubtless, without complete success 
to describe and explain the non-measurable, purely quali- 
tative aspects of reality. Since the time of Galileo, scientists 
have admitted, sometimes explicitly, but much more often 
by implication, that they are incompetent to discuss such 
matters. The scientific picture of the world is what it is 
because men of science combine this incompetence with 
certain special competences. They have no right to claim 
that this product of incompetence and specialization is a 
complete picture of reality. As a matter of historical fact, 
however, this claim has constantly been made. The suc- 
cessive steps in the process of identifying an arbitrary 
abstraction from reality with reality itself have been 
described, very fully and lucidly, in Bum's excellent 
Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science; and it is 
therefore unnecessary for me to develop the theme any 
further. All that I need add is the fact that, in recent years, 



many men of science have come to realize that the scientific 
picture of the world is a partial one the product of their 
special competence in mathematics and their special incom- 
petence to deal systematically with aesthetic and moral 
values, religious experiences and intuitions of significance. 
Unhappily, novel ideas become acceptable to the less intel- 
ligent members of society only with a very considerable 
time-lag. Sixty or seventy years ago the majority of 
scientists believed and the belief often caused them con- 
siderable distress that the product of their special incom- 
petence was identical with reality as a whole. To-day this 
belief has begun to give way, in scientific circles, to a 
different and obviously truer conception of the relation 
between science and total experience. The masses, on the 
contrary, have just reached the point where the ancestors 
of to-day's scientists were standing two generations back. 
They are convinced that the scientific picture of an arbitrary 
abstraction from reality is a picture of reality as a whole 
and that therefore the world is without meaning or value. 
But nobody likes living in such a world. To satisfy their 
hunger for meaning and value, they turn to such doctrines 
as Nationalism, Fascism and revolutionary Communism. 
Philosophically and scientifically, these doctrines are 
absurd; but for the masses in every community, they have 
this great merit: they attribute the meaning and value 
that have been taken away from the world as a whole to 
the particular part of the world in which the believers 
happen to be living. 

These last considerations raise an important question, 
which must now be considered in some detail. Does the 
world as a whole possess the value and meaning that we 
constantly attribute to certain parts of it (such as human 
beings and their works) ; and, if so, what is the nature of 
that value and meaning? This is a question which, a few 
years ago, I should not even have posed. For, like so many 


of my contemporaries, I took it for granted that there was 
no meaning. This was partly due to the feet that I shared 
the common belief that the scientific picture of an abstrac- 
tion from reality was a true picture of reality as a whole; 
partly also to other, non-intellectual reasons. I had motives 
for not wanting the world to have a meaning ; consequently 
assumed that k had none, and was able without any difficulty 
to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. 

Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don't know 
because we don't want to know. It is our will that decides 
how and upon what subjects we shall use our intelligence. 
Those who detect no meaning in the world generally do so 
because, for one reason or another, it suits their books that 
the world should be meaningless. 

The behaviour of the insane is merely sane behaviour, a 
bit exaggerated and distorted. The abnormal casts a reveal- 
ing light upon the normal. Hence the interest attaching, 
among other madmen, to the extravagant figure of the 
Marquis de Sade. The Marquis prided himself upon being 
a thinker. His books, indeed, contain more philosophy 
then pornography. The hungry smut-hound must plough 
through long chapters of abstract speculation in order to 
find die cruelties and obscenities for which he hungers. 
De Sade's philosophy was the philosophy of meaningless- 
ness carried to its logical conclusion. Life was without 
significance. Values were illusory and ideals merely the 
inventions of cunning priests and kings. Sensations and 
animal pleasures alone possessed reality and were alone 
worth living for. There was no reason why anyone should 
have the slighest consideration for anyone else. For those 
who found rape and murder amusing, rape and murder were 
fully legitimate activities. And so on. 

Why was the Marquis unable to find any value or signifi- 
cance in the world? Was his intellect more piercing than 
that of other men? Was he forced by the acuity of his 



vision to look through the veils of prejudice and super- 
stition to the hideous reality behind them? We may doubt 
it. The real reason why the Marquis could see no meaning 
or value in the world is to be found in those descriptions 
of fornications, sodomies and tortures which alternate with 
the philosophizings of Justine and Juliette. In the ordinary 
circumstances of life, the Marquis was not particularly cruel; 
indeed, he is said to have got into serious trouble during 
the Terror for his leniency towards those suspected of anti- 
revolutionary sentiments. His was a strictly sexual perver- 
sion. It was for flogging actresses, sticking penknives into 
shop-girls, feeding prostitutes on sugar-plums impregnated 
with cantharides, that he got into trouble with the police. 
His philosophical disquisitions, which, like the porno- 
graphic day-dreams, were mostly written in prisons and 
asylums, were the theoretical justification or his erotic 
practices. Similarly his politics were dictated by the desire 
to avenge himself on those members of his family and his 
class who had, as he thought, unjustly persecuted him. He 
was enthusiastically a revolutionary at any rate in theory; 
for, as we have seen, he was too gentle in practice to satisfy 
his fellow- Jacobins. His books are of permanent interest 
and value because they contain a kind of reductio ad 
alsurdum of revolutionary theory. Sade is not afraid to 
be a revolutionary to the bitter end. Not content with 
denying the particular system of values embodied in the 
ancien rtgime, he proceeds to deny the existence of any 
values, any idealism, any binding moral imperatives what- 
soever. He preaches violent revolution not only in the 
field of politics and economics, but (logical with the appal- 
ling logicality of the maniac) also in that of personal 
relations, including the most intimate of all, the relations 
between lovers. And, after all, why not ? If it is legitimate 
to torment and kill in one set of circumstances, it must be 
equally legitimate to torment and kill in all other circum- 



stances* De Sade is the one completely consistent and 
thoroughgoing revolutionary of history. 

If I have lingered so long over a maniac, it is because his 
madness illuminates the dark places of normal behaviour. 
No philosophy is completely disinterested. The pure love 
of truth is always mingled to some extent with the need, 
consciously or unconsciously felt by even the noblest and 
the most intelligent philosophers, to justify a given form 
of personal or social behaviour, to rationalize the traditional 
prejudices of a given class or community. The philosopher 
who finds meaning in the world is concerned, not only to 
elucidate that meaning, but also to prove that it is most 
clearly expressed in some established religion, some 
accepted code of morals. The philosopher who finds 
no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively 
with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is also concerned 
to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally 
should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should 
not seize political power and govern in the way that they 
find most advantageous to themselves. The voluntary, as 
opposed to the intellectual, reasons for holding the doctrines 
of materialism, for example, may be predominantly erotic, 
as they were in the case of Lamettrie (see his lyrical account 
of the pleasures of the bed in La Vofapte and at the end of 
UHomme Machine)^ or predominantly political, as they 
were in the case of Karl Marx. The desire to justify a par- 
ticular form of political organization and, in some cases, 
of a personal will to power, has played an equally large 
part in the formulation of philosophies postulating the 
existence of a meaning in the world. Christian philosophers 
have found no difficulty in justifying imperialism, war, the 
capitalistic system, the use of torture, the censorship of the 
press, and ecclesiastical tyrannies of every sort, from the 
tyranny of Rome to the tyrannies of Geneva and New 
England. In all these cases they have shown that the mean- 



ing of the world was such as to be compatible with, or 
actually most completely expressed by, the iniquities I have 
mentioned above iniquities which happened, of course, to 
serve the personal or sectarian interests of the philosophers 
concerned. In due course there arose philosophers who 
denied not only the right of these Christian special pleaders 
to justify iniquity by an appeal to the aaeaning of the world, 
but even their right to find any such meaning whatsoever. 
In the circumstances, the fact was not surprising. One 
unscrupulous distortion of the truth tends to beget other 
and opposite distortions. Passions may be satisfied in the 
process; but the disinterested love of knowledge suffers 

For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, 
the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an 
instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was 
simultaneously liberation from a certain political and eco- 
nomic system and liberation from a certain system of 
morality. We objected to the moraKty because it inter- 
fered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political 
and economic system because it was unjust. The sup- 
porters of these systems claimed that in some way they 
embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) 
of the world. There was one admirably simple method of 
confuting these people and at the same time justifying our- 
selves in our political and erotic revolt: we could deny 
that the world had any meaning whatsoever. Similar tactics 
had been adopted during the eighteenth century and for the 
same reasons. From the popular novelists of the period, 
such as Crebillon and Andrea de Nerciat, we learn that the 
chief reason for being * philosophical* was that one might 
be free from prejudices above all, prejudices of a sexual 
nature. More serious writers associated political with sexual 
prejudice and recommended philosophy (in practice, the 
philosophy of meaninglessness) as a preparation for social 
s 273 


reform or revolution. The early nineteenth century wit- 
nessed a reaction towards meaningful philosophy of a kind 
that could, unhappily, be used to justify political reaction. 
The men of the new Enlightenment which occurred in the 
middle years of the nineteenth century once again used 
meaninglessness as a weapon against the reactionaries. 
The Victorian passion for respectability was, however, so 
great that, during the period when they were formulated, 
neither Positivism nor Darwinism was used as a justification 
for sexual indulgence. After the War the philosophy of 
meaninglessness came once more triumphantly into fashion. 
As in the days of Lamettrie and his successors the desire to 
justify a certain sexual looseness played a part in the popu- 
larization of meaninglessness at least as important as that 
played by the desire for liberation from an unjust and 
inefficient form of social organization. By the end of the 
'twenties a reaction had begun to set in away from the 
easy-going philosophy of general meaninglessness towards 
the hard, ferocious theologies of nationalistic and revolu- 
tionary idolatry. Meaning was reintroduced into the world, 
but only in patches. The universe as a whole still remained 
meaningless, but certain of its parts, such as the nation, the 
state, the class, the party, were endowed with significance 
and the highest value. The general acceptance of a doctrine 
that denies meaning and value to the world as a whole, 
while assigning them in a supreme degree to certain 
arbitrarily selected parts of the totality, can have only evil 
and disastrous results. 'All that we are (and consequently 
all that we do) is the result of what we have thought/ 
We have thought of ourselves as members of supremely 
meaningful and valuable communities deified nations, 
divine classes and what not existing within a meaning- 
less universe. And because we have thought like this, 
rearmament is in full swing, economic nationalism becomes 
ever more intense, the battle of rival propagandas grows 



ever fiercer, and general war becomes increasingly 

It was the manifestly poisonous nature of the fruits that 
forced me to reconsider the philosophical tree on which 
they had grown. It is certainly hard, perhaps impossible, 
to demonstrate any necessary connection between truth and 
practical goodness. Indeed it was fashionable during the 
Enlightenment of the middle nineteenth century to speak 
of the need for supplying the masses with 'vital lies' 
calculated to make those who accepted them not only 
happy, but well behaved. The truth which was that 
there was no meaning or value in the world should be 
revealed only to the few who were strong enough to 
stomach it. Now, it may be, of course, that the nature of 
things has fixed a great gulf between truth about the world 
on die one hand and practical goodness on the other. 
Meanwhile, however, the nature of things seems to have 
so constituted the human mind that it is extremely reluctant 
to accept such a conclusion, except under the pressure of 
desire or self-interest. Furthermore, those who, to be 
liberated from political or sexual restraint, accept the doc- 
trine of absolute meaninglessness tend in a short time to 
become so much dissatisfied with their philosophy (in spite 
of the services it renders) that they will exchange it for any 
dogma, however manifestly nonsensical, which restores 
meaning if only to a part of the universe. Some people, it 
is true, can live contentedly with a philosophy of meaning- 
lessness for a very long time. But in most cases it will be 
found that these people possess some talent or accomplish- 
ment that permits them to live a life which, to a limited extent, 
is profoundly meaningful and valuable. Thus an artist 
or a man of science can profess a philosophy of general 
meaninglessness and yet lead a perfectly contented life. 
The reason for this must be sought in the fact that artistic 
creation and scientific research are absorbingly delightful 


occupations, possessing, moreover, a certain special signi- 
ficance in virtue of their relation to truth and beauty. 
Nevertheless, artistic creation and scientific research may be, 
and constantly are, used as devices for escaping from the 
responsibilities of Kfe. They are proclaimed to be ends 
absolutely good in themselves ends so admirable that 
those who pursue them are excused from bothering about 
anything else. This is particularly true of contemporary 
science. The mass of accumulated knowledge is so great 
that it is now impossible for any individual to have a 
thorough grasp of more than one small field of study. 
Meanwhile, no attempt is made to produce a comprehen- 
sive synthesis of the general results of scientific research. 
Our universities possess no chair of synthesis. All endow- 
ments, moreover, go to special subjects and almost always 
to subjects which have no need of further endowment, such 
as physics, chemistry and mechanics. In our institutions of 
higher learning about ten times as much is spent on the 
natural sciences as on the sciences of man. All our efforts 
are directed, as usual, to producing improved means to un- 
improved ends. Meanwhile intensive specialization tends 
to reduce each branch of science to a condition almost 
approaching meaninglessness. There are many men of science 
who are actually proud of this state of things. Specialized 
meaninglessness has come to be regarded, in certain circles, 
as a kind of hall-mark of true science. Those who attempt 
to relate the small particular results of specialization with 
human life as a whole and its relation to the universe at 
large are accused of being bad scientists, charlatans, self- 
advertisers. The people who make such accusations do so, 
of course, because they do not wish to take any responsi- 
bility for anything, but merely to retire to their cloistered 
laboratories, and there amuse themselves by performing 
delightfully interesting researches. Science and art are only 
too often a superior kind of dope, possessing this advantage 



over booze and morphia : that they can be indulged in with 
a good conscience and with the conviction that, in the 
process of indulging, one is leading the 'higher life.' Up 
to a point, of course, this is true. The life of the scientist or 
the artist is a higher life. Unfortunately, when led in an 
irresponsible, one-sided way, the higher life is probably more 
harmful for the individual than the lower life of the average 
sensual man and certainly, in the case of the scientist, much 
worse for society at large. 

We see, then, that the mind is so constituted that a philo- 
sophy of meaninglessness is accepted only at the suggestion 
of the passions and is persisted in only by those whose 
heredity and upbringing make it possible for them to live 
as though the world were at least partially meaningful. The 
fact that the mind has a certain difficulty in accepting the 
philosophy of meaninglessness is significant, if only to the 
extent that it raises the question whether truth and good- 
ness may not be somehow correlated in the nature of things. 
Nor is the old Stoic appeal to the consensus gentium by any 
means entirely negligible. That so many philosophers and 
mystics, belonging to so many different cultures, should 
have been convinced, by inference or by direct intuition, 
that the world possesses meaning and value is a fact suffi- 
ciently striking to make it worth while at least to investigate 
the belief in question. 

Let us begin the investigation by considering the stock 
arguments used in support of theism. Of these the argu- 
ment from design was at one time the most popular. To- 
day it no longer carries conviction. To begin with, we are 
no longer certain that the design, upon which Paley and 
the earlier thinkers based their arguments, is more than the 
appearance of design. What looks as though it had been 
planned in advance may be in fact merely the result of a 
long-drawn process of adaptation. The relationship exist- 
ing between X and Y may be the kind of relationship that 



an intelligent being would have planned. But that is no 
reason for supposing that an intelligent being did in fact 
plan it. Such a relationship may equally well be the result 
of natural selection working blindly to produce a state of 
equilibrium between two originally discordant and mutually 
unadapted entities. Moreover, even if the evidence for 
design is taken at its face value (as it was taken by Kant), 
there is still no reason for supposing that the designer was 
a single supreme being. Upon this point the arguments 
adduced by Hume and Kant are decisive. 

The ontological argument is even less convincing than the 
argument from design. Anselm was decisively refuted by 
Aquinas and Descartes by Kant. In recent years, the verbal 
foundations of logic have been subjected to the most search- 
ing analysis, as the result of which the ontological argument 
seems still less satisfactory than it did even in Kant's day. 

The cosmological proof of the existence of God is based 
upon the argument that if contingent beings exist there 
must exist a necessary being; and that if there is an ens 
necessarium it must be at the same time an ens realissimum. 
In his earlier writings Kant produced a very elaborate 
speculative proof of God's existence, based upon the argu- 
ment that the possible presupposes the actual. Later, when 
he had developed his Critical Philosophy, he rejected this 
proof and sought to show that all the arguments for natural 
theology, including the cosmological, were unsound. In 
the course of his later refutation of the cosmological proof, 
Kant has to dispose of the natural theologian's argument 
that the existence of causally related events implies the 
existence of a First Cause. He does this by arguing that 
causality is merely a principle for ordering appearances in 
the sensible world, therefore cannot legitimately be used 
for transcending the world of sense. This argument has 
been revived, in a less pedantic form, by Brunschvicg in his 
Progris de la Conscience (ii. 778): En toute tvidence, ceux- 



Id mime qui invoquent It principe dt la causaliti comme une 
lot fondamentale de la reason hurricane, ne peuvent y obiir 
strictement qut s'ils en font usage pour relier de Vuniti d 9 un 
iugement deux objets dont I 'existence lew est prialablement C'est la hi elle-meme qui s* oppose d ce qu'ils aillent 
forger de leur autoriti privte le terme qid manque pour la mise 
en oeuvre effective du principe: I* application transcendentale de 
la causaliti revient d la petition d*un objet imaginaire. 9 The 
question arises : what are the objects which can be legitim- 
ately connected by the principle of causality ? Kant involved 
himself in extraordinary difficulties by limiting causality to 
events in the world of sense. But the only form of causality 
with which we have direct acquaintance is our own volun- 
tary activity. We know directly that our will is the cause 
of our performing a given action in the world of sense. It 
is no doubt true, as Brunschvicg says, that we have no right 
to apply the principle of causality except to objects of which 
we already know, either by direct acquaintance or by infer- 
ence, that they exist. Acting on this principle, we may 
legitimately postulate a causal connection between one 
sense object and another sense object and also between a 
sense object and a mental state which is not a sense object. 
Whether in fact there can be mental states which do not 
belong to individual human beings or animals is another 
question. All that we can say in this particular context is 
that, if such mental states exist, there seems to be no 
reason why (supposing them to be analogous to our own 
mental states) they should not be causally related to events 
in the world of sense. 

The moral argument for theism may be very briefly 
summed up as follows. Moral action aims at the realiza- 
tion of the highest good. The highest good cannot be 
realized except where there is a virtuous rational will in 
persons and a world in which this virtuous rational will is 
not thwarted a world where virtue is united with happi- 



ness. But it is a matter of brute empirical fact that, in the 
world of phenomena, the most virtuous are not necessarily 
the happiest, and that the rational will is not always that 
which gets itself done. It follows therefore that the union 
of virtue and happiness, without which the highest good 
cannot be realized, must be effected by some power external 
to ourselves, a power whkh so arranges things that, what- 
ever partial and temporary appearance may be, the total 
world order is moral and demonstrates the union of virtue 
with happiness. 

Those who oppose this argument do so, first, on the 
ground that it is merely a piece of 'wishful thinking/ and, 
second, that words like 'virtue/ 'the good* and all the rest 
have no definite meaning, but change from one community 
to another. 

We discredit thoughts which have wishes as their fathers ; 
and in very many circumstances, we are certainly right in 
doing so. But there are certain circumstances in which 
wishes are a reliable source of information, not only about 
ourselves, but also about the outside world. From the 
premiss, for example, of thirst we are justified in arguing the 
existence of something which can satisfy thirst. Nor is it 
only in the phenomenal world that such wishful arguments 
have validity. We have, as I have pointed out in an earlier 
paragraph, a craving for explanation. This craving is satis- 
fied by the reduction of diversity to identity, so much so 
that any theory which postulates the existence of identity 
behind diversity seems to us intrinsically plausible. Like 
philosophy and religion, science is an attempt systematic- 
ally to satisfy the craving for explanation in terms of 
theories which seem plausible because they postulate the 
existence of identity behind diversity. But here an interest- 
ing and highly significant fact emerges: observation and 
experiment seem to demonstrate that what the human mind 
regards as intrinsically plausible is in fact true and that the 



craving for explanation, which is a craving for identity 
behind diversity, is actually satisfied by the real world; for 
the real world reveals itself as being in effect a unity in 
diversity. The craving for explanation was felt by men 
thousands of years before the instruments, by means of 
which that craving could be scientifically satisfied, had been 
invented. The old philosophers of nature assuaged that 
craving by postulating the existence of some single sub- 
stance, material or mental, underlying the apparent diversity 
of independent existents, or by proclaiming that all matter 
must be built of identically similar atoms, variously arranged. 
Within the last half-century investigation by means of 
instruments of precision has actually demonstrated that 
these cosmological theories which, up till then, could only 
be described as pieces of wishful thinking designed to satisfy 
the inborn craving for explanation, were in fact remarkably 
consonant with die facts of the empirical world. The 
craving for righteousness seems to be a human character- 
istic just as fundamental as the craving for explanation. 
The moral argument in favour of theism is certainly a 
piece of wishful thinking; but it is no more wishful than 
the arguments in favour of the atomic theory propounded 
by Democritus and Epicurus, or even by Boyle and Newton- 
The theory by means of which these natural philosophers 
tried to satisfy their craving for explanation was found to 
be in tolerably close accord with the facts discovered by 
the later investigators, equipped with more effective instru- 
ments for exploring physical reality. Whether it will ever 
be possible to verify the theories of the moral philosphers 
by direct observation and experiment seems doubtful. But 
that is no reason for denying the truth of such theories. 
Nor, as we have seen, is the fact that they originate in 
wishes. ' Tu ne me chercherais pas si tu ne me poss&daisf 
wrote Pascal. Ne fwqu&te done pas. 9 The theories 
devised to satisfy the craving for explanation have proved 



to be remarkably accurate in their account of the nature of 
the world ; we have no right to reject as mere subjective 
illusions the analogous thesis devised to satisfy the cravings 
for righteousness, for meaning, for value. 

At this point we are confronted by the argument that 
such words as 'good/ * virtue* and the like have no definite 
meaning, but signify now this, now that, according to the 
degree of latitude, the colour of the skin, the local myth- 
ology. This is, of course, perfectly true. The content of 
judgments of value is demonstrably variable. Two im- 
portant points should, however, be noted in this context. 
The first is that such judgments are passed by all human 
beings, that the category of value is universally employed. 
The second is that, as knowledge, sensibility and non- 
attachment increase, the contents of the judgments of value 
passed even by men belonging to dissimilar cultures tend 
to approximate. The ethical doctrines taught in the Tao Te 
Ching, by Gautama Buddha and his followers on the Lesser 
and above all the Greater Vehicle, in the Sermon on the 
Mount and by the best of the Christian saints, are not dis- 
similar. Among human beings who have reached a certain 
level of civilization and of personal freedom from passion 
and social prejudice there exists a real consensus gentium in 
regard to ethical first principles. These first principles are, 
of course, in constant danger from the passions and from 
ignorance, itself in many cases the fruit of passion. Passion 
and ignorance work, not only on individuals, but sometimes 
also on entire communities. In the latter case a systematic 
attempt is made to replace the ethical first principles of 
civilized humanity by other first principles more in accord 
with the prevailing mass-emotions and national interests. 
This process is taking place at the present time all over the 
world. Nationalistic and revolutionary passions find them- 
selves in conflict with the standards of civilized morality. 
Consequently the standards of civilized morality are every- 



where denounced as false and wicked, and new standards 
are set up in their place* The nature of these new standards 
varies with the political ideals of the countries in which 
they are set up but varies only very slightly. Essentially 
all the new moralities, Communist, Fascist, Nazi or merely 
Nationalist, are singularly alike. All affirm that the end 
justifies the means; and in all the end is the triumph of a 
section of the human species over the rest. All justify the 
unlimited use of violence and cunning. All preach the 
subordination of the individual to a ruling oligarchy, deified 
as 'the State/ All inculcate the minor virtues, such as 
temperance, prudence, courage and the like; but all dis- 
parage the higher virtues, charity and intelligence, without 
which the minor virtues are merely instruments for doing 
evil with increased efficiency. 

Examples of reversion to barbarism through mere ignor- 
ance are unhappily abundant in the history of Christianity. 
The early Christians made the enormous mistake of 
burdening themselves with the Old Testament, which 
contains, along with much fine poetry and sound morality, 
the history of the cruelties and treacheries of a Bronze- Age 
people, fighting for a place in the sun under the protection 
of its anthropomorphic tribal deity. Christian theologians 
did their best to civilize and moralize this tribal deity; but, 
inspired in every line, dictated by God himself, the Old 
Testament was always there to refute them. Ancient 
ignorance had been sanctified as revelation. Those whom 
it suited to be ignorant and, along with them, the innocent 
and uneducated could find in this treasure-house of bar- 
barous stupidity justifications for every crime and folly. 
Texts to justify such abominations as religious wars, the 
persecution of heretics, breaking of faith with unbelievers, 
could be found in the sacred books and were in fact used 
again and again throughout the whole history of the 
Christian Church to mitigate the inconvenient decency of 



civilized morality. In the last analysis, all this folly and 
wickedness can be traced back to a mistaken view of the 
world. The Hebrews of the Bronze Age thought that the 
integrating principle of the universe was a kind of 
magnified human person, with all the feelings and passions 
of a human person. He was wrathful, for example, he was 
jealous, he was vindictive. This being so, there was no 
reason why his devotees should not be wrathful, jealous 
and vindictive. Among the Christians this primitive cos- 
mology led to the burning of heretics and witches, the 
wholesale massacre of Albigensians, Catharists, Protestants, 
Catholics and a hundred other sects. In the modern world 
ignorance about the nature of the universe takes the form 
of a refusal to speculate about that nature and an insistence 
that there is no meaning or value except in such small and 
arbitrarily selected parts of the whole as the nation, the 
state, the class and the party. To believe that the nation 
is God is a mistake just as grotesque as was the mistake 
of supposing that the sun would die if it did not get 
victims or that God is a kind of large invisible man, with 
all the most disgraceful human passions. 

We are back again at the point reached on an earlier 
page the point at which we discover that an obviously 
untrue philosophy of life leads in practice to disastrous 
results; the point where we realize the necessity of seeking 
an alternative philosophy that shall be true and therefore 
fruitful of good. In the interval, we have considered the 
classical arguments in favour of theism and have found that 
some carry no conviction whatever, while the rest can only 
raise a presumption in favour of the theory that the world 
possesses some integrating principle that gives it significance 
and value. There is probably no argument by which the 
case for theism, or for deism, or for pantheism in either its 
pancosmic or acosmic form, can be convincingly proved. 
The most that * abstract reasoning* (to use Hume's phrase) 



can do is to creaie a presumption in favour of one or other 
hypothesis; and this presumption can be increased by 
means of 'experimental reasoning concerning matter of 
fact or evidence.' Final conviction can only come to those 
who make an act of faith. The idea is one which most of 
us find very distressing. But it may be doubted whether 
this particular act of faith is intrinsically more difficult than 
those which we have to make, for example, every time we 
frame a scientific hypothesis, every time that, from the 
consideration of a few phenomena, we draw inference con- 
cerning all phenomena, past, present and future. On very 
little evidence, but with no qualms of intellectual conscience, 
we assume that our craving for explanation has a real object 
in an explicable universe, that the aesthetic satisfaction we 
derive from certain arguments is a sign that they are true, 
that the laws of thought are also laws of things. There 
seems to be no reason why, having swallowed this camel, 
we should not swallow another, no larger really than the first. 
The reasons why we strain at the second camel have been 
given above. Once recognized, they cease to exist and 
we become free to consider on their merits the evidence 
and arguments that would reasonably justify us in making 
the final act of faith and assuming the truth of a hypothesis 
that we are unable fully to demonstrate. 

'Abstract reasoning' must now give place to * experi- 
mental reasoning concerning matter of fact or evidence/ 
Natural science, as we have seen, deals only with those 
aspects of reality that are amenable to mathematical treat- 
ment. The rest it merely ignores. But some of the experi- 
ences thus ignored by natural science aesthetic experiences, 
for example, and religious experiences throw much light 
upon the present problem. It is with the fact of such experi- 
ences and the evidence they furnish concerning the nature 
of the world that we have now to concern ourselves. 

To discuss the nature and significance of aesthetic 



experience would take too long. It is enough, in this 
place, merely to suggest that the best works of literary, 
plastic and musical art give us more than mere pleasure; 
they furnish us with information about the nature of the 
world. The Sanctus in Beethoven's Mass in D, Seurat's 
Grande Jattc, Macbeth works such as these tell us, by 
strange but certain implication, something significant about 
the ultimate reality behind appearances. Even from the 
perfection of minor masterpieces certain sonnets of 
Mallarm^, for instance, certain Chinese ceramics we can 
derive illuminating hints about the "something far more 
deeply interfused/ about 'the peace of God that passeth 
all understanding. 9 But the subject of art is enormous and 
obscure, and my space is limited. I shall therefore confine 
myself to a discussion of certain religious experiences which 
bear more directly upon the present problem than do our 
experiences as creators and appreciators of art. 

I have spoken in the preceding chapter of meditation as 
a device, in Babbitt's words, for producing a ' super-rational 
concentration of the will.* But meditation is more than a 
method of self-education; it has also been used, in every 
part of the world and from the remotest periods, as a 
method for acquiring knowledge about the essential nature 
of things, a method for establishing communion between 
the soul and the integrating principle of the universe. 
Meditation, in other words, is die technique of mysticism. 
Properly practised, with due preparation, physical, mental 
and moral, meditation may result in a state of what has 
been called * transcendental consciousness* the direct in- 
tuition of, and union with, an ultimate spiritual reality 
that is perceived as simultaneously beyond the self and in 
some way within it. ('God in the depths of us,' says 
Ruysbroeck, * receives God who comes to us: it is 
God contemplating God.') Non-mystics have denied the 
validity of the mystical experience, describing it as merely 



subjective and illusory. But it should be remembered that, 
to those who have never actually had it, any direct intuition 
must seem subjective and illusory. It is impossible for the 
deaf to form any idea of the nature or significance of music. 
Nor is physical disability the only obstacle in the way of 
musical understanding. An Indian, for example, finds 
European orchestral music intolerably noisy, complicated, 
over-intellectual, inhuman. It seems incredible to him that 
anyone should be able to perceive beauty and meaning, 
to recognize an expression of the deepest and subtlest 
emotions, in this elaborate cacophony. And yet, if he has 
patience and listens to enough of it, he will come at last 
to realize, not only theoretically, but also by direct, 
immediate intuition, that this music possesses all the 
qualities which Europeans claim for it. Of the significant 
and pleasurable experiences of life only the simplest are 
open indiscriminately to all. The rest cannot be had 
except by those who have undergone a suitable training. 
One must be trained even to enjoy the pleasures of alcohol 
and tobacco; first whiskies seem revolting, first pipes turn 
even the strongest of boyish stomachs. Similarly, first 
Shakespeare sonnets seem meaningless; first Bach fugues, 
a bore; first differential, equations, sheer torture. But 
training changes the nature of our spiritual experiences. 
In due course, contact with an obscurely beautiful poem, 
an elaborate piece of counterpoint or of mathematical 
reasoning, causes us to feel direct intuitions of beauty and 
significance. It is the same in the moral world. A man 
who has trained himself in goodness comes to have certain 
direct intuitions about character, about the relations between 
human beings, about his own position in the world 
intuitions that are quite different from the intuitions of the 
average sensual man. Knowledge is always a function of 
being. What we perceive and understand depends upon 
what we are; and what we are depends partly on circum- 


stances, partly, and more profoundly, on the nature of the 
efforts we have made to realize our ideal and the nature of 
the ideal we have tried to realize. The fact that knowing 
depends upon being leads, of course, to an immense amount 
of misunderstanding. The meaning of words, for example, 
changes profoundly according to the character and experi- 
ences of the user. Thus, to the saint, words like 'love,' 
* charity/ * compassion* mean something quite different 
from what they mean to the ordinary man. Again, to the 
ordinary man, Spinoza's statement that "blessedness is not 
the reward of virtue, but is virtue itself seems simply 
untrue. Being virtuous is, for him, a most tedious and 
distressing process. But it is clear that to someone who 
has trained himself in goodness, virtue really is blessedness, 
while the life of the ordinary man, with its petty vices and 
its long spells of animal thoughtlessness and insentience, 
seems a real torture. In view of the fact that knowing is 
conditioned by being and that being can be profoundly 
modified by training, we are justified in ignoring most of 
the arguments by which non-mystics have sought to dis- 
credit the experience of mystics. The being of a colour- 
blind man is such that he is not competent to pass judgment 
on a painting. The colour-blind man cannot be educated 
into seeing colours, and in this respect he is different from 
the Indian musician, who begins by finding European 
symphonies merely deafening and bewildering, but can be 
trained, if he so desires, to perceive the beauties of this 
kind of music. Similarly, the being of a non-mystical 
person is such that he cannot understand the nature of the 
mystic's intuitions. Like the Indian musician, however, he 
is at liberty, if he so chooses, to have some kind of direct 
experience of what at present he does not understand. This 
training is one which he will certainly find extremely 
tedious; for it involves, first, the leading of a life of 
constant awareness and unremitting moral effort, second, 



steady practice in the technique of meditation, which is 
probably about as difficult as die technique of violin-play- 
ing. But, however tedious, the training can be undertaken 
by anyone who wishes to do so. Those who have not 
undertaken the training can have no knowledge of the 
kind of experiences open to those who have undertaken it 
and are as little justified in denying the validity of those 
direct intuitions of an ultimate spiritual reality, at once 
transcendent and immanent, as were the Pisan professors 
who denied, on a priori grounds, the validity of Galileo's 
direct intuition (made possible by the telescope) of the fact 
that Jupiter has several moons. 

The validity of the mystical experience is often questioned 
on the ground that the mystics of each religion have direct 
intuition only of the particular deities they are accustomed 
to worship. This is only partially true. There are good 
mystics and bad mystics, just as there are good and bad 
artists. The great majority of artists are, and always have 
been, bad or indifferent; and the same is probably true of 
the majority of mystics. Significantly enough it is always 
among those mystics, whom qualified critics regard as 
second-rate, that the intuitions of ultimate reality take a 
particularized form. To the mystics who are generally 
regarded as the best of their kind, ultimate reality does 
not appear under the aspect of the local divinities. It 
appears as a spiritual reality so far beyond particular form 

or personality that nothing can be predicated of it. 


'The at/nan is silence/ is what the Hindus say of ultimate 
spiritual reality. The only language that can convey any 
idea about the nature of this reality is the language of 
negation, of paradox, of extravagant exaggeration. The 
pseudo-Dionysius speaks of the "ray of the divine darkness/ 
of 'the super-lucent darkness of silence 9 and of the necessity 
to "leave behind the senses and the intellectual operations 
and all things known by sense and intellect/ 'If anyone/ 
T 289 


*he writes, "seeing God, understands what he has seen, he 
has not seen God/ 'Ncscio, nesiio,' was what St. Bernard 
wrote of die ultimate reality ; * netL netif was Yajnavalkya's 
verdict at the other side of the world. 'I know not, I know 
not: not so, not so/ We are a long way from particularized 
Hindu or Christian divinities. 

The biography of most of the first-class Christian mystics 
is curiously similar. Brought up to believe in the person- 
ality of the triune God and in the existence and ubiquitous 
presence of other divine persons, such as the Virgin and the 
saints, they begin their mystical career by entering, as they 
suppose, into relations with supernatural personalities. 
Then, as they advance further along the path and all the 
mystics are agreed that this process is genuinely an advance 
they find that their visions disappear, that their awareness 
of a personality fades, that the emotional outpourings which 
were appropriate when they seemed to be in the presence of 
a person, become utterly inappropriate and finally give place 
to a state in which there is no emotion at all. For many 
Christian mystics this process has been extremely distress- 
ing. The anguish of losing contact with personality of 
having to abandon the traditional beliefs, constitutes what 
St. John of the Cross calls the Night of the Senses, and it 
would seem that the same anguish is an element of that still 
more frightful desolation, the Night of the Spirit. St. John 
of the Cross considers that all true mystics must necessarily 
pass through this terrible dark night. So far as strictly 
orthodox Christians are concerned, he is probably right. 
In this context, a most valuable document is the Life of Marie 
Lataste. 1 Marie Lataste was an uneducated peasant girl 
completely ignorant of the history of mysticism. She 
begins by having visions of the Virgin and of Christ. Her 
mystical experience at this period consists essentially of 
emotional relationships with divine persons. In the course 
1 Summarized in Miss Tfllyard's Spiritual Exercises, p. 202. 



of time the sense of a personal presence leaves her. She 
feels lonely and abandoned. It is the dark night of the 
soul. In the end, however, she comes to understand that 
this new form of experience the imageless and emotion- 
less cognition of some great impersonal force is superior 
to the old and represents a closer approach to ultimate 
reality. Marie Lataste's case is particularly interesting, 
because her ignorance of mystical literature precludes the 
possibility that she deliberately or unconsciously imitated 
any other mystic. Her experience was wholly her own. 
Brought up in the traditional belief that God is a person, 
she gradually discovers by direct intuition that he is not a 
person; and for a time, at least, the discovery causes her 
considerable distress. For orthodox Christians, I repeat, 
the dark night of the soul would seem to be an unescapable 

Significantly enough this particular form of spiritual 
anguish is not experienced by unorthodox Christians, nor 
by those non-Christian mystics who profess a religion that 
regards God as impersonal. For example, that most 
remarkable of the later mediaeval mystics, the author of 
The Cloud of Unknowing, makes no mention of any phase 
of spiritual distress. The fact is that he has no reason to 
be distressed. From the first his preoccupation is with God 
the Father rather than with God the Son; and from the 
first he assumes that God is impersonal. He is therefore 
never called upon to make any excruciating abandonment 
of cherished beliefs. The doctrine with which he starts out 
is actually confirmed by the direct intuition of ultimate 
reality which comes to him in his moments of mystical 
experience. Similarly, we never, so far as I know, hear 
anything about the dark Night of the Senses in the litera- 
ture of Buddhist or Hindu mysticism. Here again the 
belief with which the oriental mystic sets out is in accord 
with the testimony of his own experience. He has no 



treasured belief to give up ; therefore enlightenment entails 
/or him no spiritual anguish. 

All the writers in the great tradition of Christian mystical 
theology have insisted on the necessity of purging the mind, 
during meditation on the ultimate reality, of all images. 
From Clement of Alexandria, who died at the beginning 
of the third century and who was the first Christian writer 
on mystical theology, down to St. John of the Cross in the 
sixteenth, the tradition is unbroken. It is agreed that the 
attempt to think of God in terms of images, to conceive 
ultimate reality as having form or a nature describable in 
words, is foredoomed to failure. In the latter part of the 
sixteenth century there was a complete reversal of tradition. 
The subject has been treated with a wealth of learned detail 
by Dom John Chapman in the admirable essay on Roman 
Catholic Mysticism, which is printed in Hastings' Ency- 
clopaedia of Religion and Ethics, and it is unnecessary for 
me to do more than briefly summarize his conclusions. 
* At this very time (the end of the sixteenth century) the 
dogmatic theologians were rising up against mystical theo- 
logy. The great Dominicans, following the example of 
St. Thomas in his Summa, ignored it; the great Jesuits 
denied its very existence.' (The Jesuits, of course, had 
been brought up on Ignatius's spiritual exercises in which 
every effort is made, not to suppress the image-forming 
phantasy that worst obstacle, according to St. John of 
the Cross and all the earlier mystics, in the way of a genuine 
intuition of ultimate reality but to develop it, if possible, 
to the pitch of hallucination.) By the middle of the seven- 
teenth century Cardinal Bona could state that 'pure prayer 
exercised without phantasmata is universally denied by the 
scholastics.' At the same time, 'art began no longer to 
represent the saints as kneeling calmly in adoration, but as 
waving their arms and stretching their necks and rolling 
their eyes, in ecstasies of sensuous longing, while they tear 



aside their clothes to relieve their burning bosoms/ Con- 
templation, meanwhile, has come to be regarded as * mainly 
the sensible tasting of mysteries, especially of the Passion.' 
(It is worth remarking that 'the tendency to substitute for 
a superrational concentration of will a subrational expan- 
sion of feeling* began, at any rate in the sphere of religion, 
not in the eighteenth century, as Babbitt has said, but in 
the seventeenth.) In this unpropitious atmosphere mys- 
ticism could not thrive; and, as Dom Chapman points 
out, there has been an almost complete dearth of Catholic 
mystics from the late sixteenth century down to the present 
day. Significant in this context is the remark made by 
Father Bede Frost, in his Art of Mental Prayer, to the effect 
that the great age of sacramentalism began in the nine- 
teenth century. During the Middle Ages far less stress was 
laid on sacramental religion than is laid at the present time, 
far more on preaching and, above all, spiritual exercises 
and contemplation. An unsympathetic observer would be 
justified in pointing to the fact as a symptom of degenera- 
tion. A religion which once laid emphasis on the need to 
educate men's wills and train their souls for direct com- 
munion with ultimate reality, and which now attaches 
supreme importance to the celebration of Sacraments (sup- 
posed in some way to cause the infusion of divine grace) * 
and to the performance of rituals calculated to induce in 
the participants a 'subrational expansion of feeling,' is 
certainly not progressing. It is becoming worse, not 

Systematic training in recollection and meditation makes 
possible the mystical experience, which is a direct intuition 
of ultimate reality. At all times and in every part of the 
world, mystics of the first order have always agreed that 
this ultimate reality, apprehended in the process of medita- 

1 The Council of Trent anathematized ' si quis dixerit sacramenta 
novae legb non continere gratiam.' 



tion, is essentially impersonal. This direct intuition of an 
impersonal spiritual reality, underlying all being, is in 
Accord with the findings of the majority of the world's 

4 There is/ writes Professor Whitehead, in Religion in 
the Making, 'a large concurrence in the negative doctrine 
that the religious experience does not include any direct 
intuition of a definite person, or individual. . . . The 
evidence for the assertion of a general, though not univer- 
sal, concurrence in the doctrine of no direct vision of a 
personal God, can only be found by a consideration of 
the religious thought of the civilized world. . . . Through- 
out India and China, religious thought, so far as it has 
been interpreted in precise form, disclaims the intuition of 
ultimate personality substantial to the universe. This is 
true of Confucian philosophy, Buddhist philosophy and 
Hindu philosophy. There may be personal embodiments, 
but the substratum is impersonal. Christian theology has 
also, in the main, adopted the position that there is no 
direct intuition of such a personal substratum for the 
world. It maintains the doctrine of a personal God as a 
truth, but holds that our belief in it is based upon in- 
ference/ There seems, however, to be no cogent reason 
why, from the existing evidence, we should draw such an 
inference. Moreover, as I have pointed out in the pre- 
ceding chapter, the practical results of drawing such an 
inference are good only up to a point; beyond that point 
they are very often extremely bad. 

We are now in a position to draw a few tentative and 
fragmentary conclusions about the nature of the world 
and our relation to it and to one another. To the casual 
observer, the world seems to be made up of great numbers 
of independent existents, some of which possess life and 
some consciousness. From very early times philosophers 
suspected that this common-sense view was, in part at least, 



illusory. More recently investigators, trained in the dis- 
cipline of mathematical physics and equipped with instru- 
ments of precision, have made observations from which it 
could be inferred that all the apparently independent 
existents in the world were built up of a limited number 
of patterns of identical units of energy. An ultimate 
physical identity underlies the apparent physical diversity 
of the world. Moreover, all apparently independent 
existents are in fact interdependent. Meanwhile the mystics 
had shown that investigators, trained in the discipline of 
recollection and meditation, could obtain direct experience 
of a spiritual unity underlying the apparent diversity of 
independent consciousness. They made it clear that what 
seemed to be the ultimate fact of personality was in reality 
not an ultimate fact, and that it was possible for individuals 
to transcend the limitations of personality and to merge 
their private consciousness into a greater, impersonal 
consciousness underlying the personal mind. 

Some have denied the very possibility of non-personal 
consciousness. McTaggart, for example, asserts that 'there 
cannot be experience which is not experienced by a self, 
because it seems evident, not as part of the meaning of 
the terms, but as a synthetic truth about experience. This 
truth is ultimate. It cannot be defended against attacks, 
but it seems beyond doubt. The more clearly we realize 
the nature of experience, or of knowledge, volition and 
emotion, the more clearly, it is submitted, does it appear 
that any of them are impossible except as the experience 
of a self/ This brings us back, once more, to the con- 
nection between knowing and being. To those on the 
common levels of being, it does indeed 'seem evident, as 
a synthetic truth about experience/ that all experience 
must be experienced by a self. For such people 'this truth 
is ultimate.' But it is not ultimate to people who have 
chosen to undertake the mystic's training in virtue and in* 


recollection and in meditation. For these it is evident, 
' as a synthetic truth about experience/ legitimately inferred 
from the empirical facts of their direct intuition, that there 
is an experience which is not the personal experience of a 
self. Such experience is not properly emotion, nor volition, 
nor even knowledge of the ordinary kind. Emotion, 
volition and knowledge are the forms of experience known 
to selves on the common levels of being. The experience 
known to selves who choose to fulfil the ethical and 
intellectual conditions upon which it is possible for an 
individual to pass to another level of being, is not their 
own emotion, their own volition, their own knowledge, 
but an unnamed and perhaps indescribable consciousness 
of a different kind, a consciousness in which the subject- 
object relation no longer exists and which no longer belongs 
to the experiencing self. 

The physical world of our daily experience is a private 
universe quarried out of a total reality which the physicists 
infer to be for greater than it. This private universe is 
different, not only from the real world, whose existence 
we are able to infer, even though we cannot directly 
apprehend it, but also from the private universes in- 
habited by other animals universes which we can never 
penetrate, but concerning whose nature we can, as Von 
Uexkull has done, make interesting speculative guesses. 
Each type of living creature inhabits a universe whose 
nature is determined and whose boundaries are imposed 
by the special inadequacies of its sense organs and its 
intelligence. In man, intelligence has been so far developed 
that he is able to infer the existence and even, to some 
extent, the nature of the real world outside his private 
universe. The nature of the sense organs and intelligence 
of living beings is imposed by biological necessity or con- 
venience. The instruments of knowledge are good enough 
to enable their owners to survive. Less inadequate instru- 



merits of knowledge might not only lead to ho biological 
advantage but might actually constitute a biological handicap. 

O O J \3r f 

Individual human beings have been able to transcend the 
limitations of man's private universe only to the extent 
that they are relieved from biological pressure. An 
individual is relieved from biological pressure in two 
ways: from without, thanks to the efforts of others, and 
from within, thanks to his own efforts. If he is to transcend 
the limitations of man's private universe he must be a 
member of a community which gives him protection 
against the inclemencies of the environment and makes it 
easy for him to supply his physical wants. But this is not 
enough. He must also train himself in the art of being 
dispassionate and disinterested, must cultivate intellectual 
curiosity for its own sake and not for what he, as an 
animal, can get out of it. 

The modern conception of man's intellectual relationship 
to the universe was anticipated by the Buddhist doctrine 
that desire is the source of illusion. To the extent that it 
has overcome desire, a mind is free from illusion. This is 
true not only of the man of science, but also of the artist 
and the philosopher. Only the disinterested mind can 
transcend common sense and pass beyond the boundaries 
of animal or average-sensual human life. The mystic 
exhibits disinterestedness in the highest degree possible to 
human beings and is therefore able to transcend ordinary 
limitations more completely than the man of science, the 
artist or the philosopher. That which he discovers beyond 
the frontiers of the average sensual man's universe is a 
spiritual reality underlying and uniting all apparently 
separate existents a reality with which he can merge 
himself and from which he can draw moral and even 
physical powers which, by ordinary standards, can only 
be described as supernormal. 

The ultimate reality discoverable by those who choose 



to modify their being, so that they can have direct know- 
ledge of it, is not, as we have seen, a personality. Since 
it is not personal, it is illegitimate to attribute to it ethical 
qualities. 'God is not good/ said Eckhart. 'I am good/ 
Goodness is the means by which men and women can 
overcome the illusion of being completely independent 
existents and can raise themselves to a level of being upon 
which it becomes possible, by recollection and meditation, 
to realize the fact of their oneness with ultimate reality, 
to know and in some measure actually associate themselves 
with it. The ultimate reality is 'the peace of God which 
passeth all understanding'; goodness is the way by which 
it can be approached. 'Finite beings/ in the words of 
Royce, 'are always such as they are in virtue of an 
inattention which at present blinds them to their actual 
relations to God and to one another/ That inattention is 
the fruit, in Buddhist language, of desire. We fail to 
attend to our true relations with ultimate reality and, 
through ultimate reality, with our fellow-beings, because 
we prefer to attend to our animal nature and to the business 
of getting on in the world. That we can never completely 
ignore the animal in us or its biological needs is obvious. 
Our separateness is not wholly an illusion. The element of 
specificity in things is a brute fact of experience. Diversity 
cannot be reduced to complete identity even in scientific 
and philosophical theory, still less in life which is lived with 
bodies, that is to say, with particular patternings of the 
ultimately identical units of energy. It is impossible in the 
nature of things, that no attention should be given to the 
animal in us; but in the circumstances of civilized life, it is 
certainly unnecessary to give all or most of our attention 
to it. Goodness is the method by which we divert our 
attention from this singularly wearisome topic of our 
animality and our individual separateness. Recollection 
and meditation assist goodness in two ways : by producing, 



in Babbitt's words, 'a suprarational concentration of will 9 
and by making it possible for the mind to realize, not only 
theoretically, but also by direct intuition, that the private 
universe of the average sensual man is not identical with 
the universe as a whole. Conversely, of course, goodness 
aids meditation by giving detachment from animality and 
so making it possible for the mind to pay attention to its 
actual relationship with ultimate reality and to other 
individuals. Goodness, meditation, the mystical experience 
and the ultimate impersonal reality discovered in mystical 
experience are organically related. This fact disposes of 
the fears expressed by Dr. Albert Schweitzer in his recent 
book on Indian thought. Mysticism, he contends, is the 
correct world view; but, though correct, it is unsatisfactory 
in ethical content. The ultimate reality of the world is not 
moral ('God is not good') and the mystic who unites 
himself with ultimate reality is uniting himself with a non- 
moral being, therefore is not himself moral. But this is 
mere verbalism and ignores the actual facts of experience. 
It is impossible for the mystic to pay attention to his real 
relation to God and to his fellows, unless he has previously 
detached his attention from his animal nature and the 
business of being socially successful. But he cannot detach 
his attention from these things except by the consistent and 
conscious practice of the highest morality. God is not 
good; but if I want to have even the smallest knowledge 
of God, I must be good at least in some slight measure; 
and if I want as full a knowledge of God as it is possible 
for human beings to have, I must be as good as it is possible 
for human beings to be. Virtue is the essential preliminary 
to the mystical experience. And this is not all. There is 
not even any theoretical incompatibility between an ultimate 
reality, which is impersonal and therefore not moral, and 
the existence of a moral order on the human level. Scientific 
investigation has shown that the world is a diversity under- 



lain by an identity of physical substance; the mystical 
experience testifies to the existence of a spiritual unity 
underlying the diversity of separate consciousnesses. 
Concerning the relation between the underlying physical 
unity and the underlying spiritual unity it is hard to 
express an opinion. Nor is it necessary, in the present 
context, that we should express one. For our present 
purposes the important fact is that it is possible to detect 
a physical and a spiritual unity underlying the independent 
existents (to some extent merely apparent, to some extent 
real, at any rate for beings on our plane of existence), of 
which our common-sense universe is composed. Now, it 
is a fact of experience that we can either emphasize our 
separateness from other beings and the ultimate reality of 
the world or emphasize our oneness with them and it. 
To some extent at least, our will is free in this matter. 
Human beings are creatures who, in so far as they are 
animals and persons, tend to regard themselves as inde- 
pendent existents, connected at most by purely biological 
ties, but who, in so far as they rise above animality and 
personality, are able to perceive that they are interrelated 
parts of physical and spiritual wholes incomparably greater 
than themselves. For such beings the fundamental moral 
commandment is: You shall realize your unity with all 
being. But men cannot realize their unity with others and 
with ultimate reality unless they practise die virtues of love 
and understanding. Love, compassion and understanding 
or intelligence these are the primary virtues in the ethical 
system, the virtues organically correlated with what may 
be called the scientific-mystical conception of the world. 
Ultimate reality is impersonal and non-ethical; but if we 
would realize our true relations with ultimate reality and 
our fellow-beings, we must practise morality and (since 
no personality can learn to transcend itself unless it is 
reasonably free from external compulsion) respect the 



personality of others. Belief in a personal, moral God has 
led only too frequently to theoretical dogmatism and 
practical intolerance to a consistent refusal to respect 
personality and to the commission in the name of the 
divinely moral person of every kind of iniquity. 

'The fact of the instability of evil/ in Professor White- 
head's words, Ms the moral order of the world/ Evil is 
that which makes for separateness; and that which makes 
for separateness is self-destructive. This self-destruction 
of evil may be sudden and violent, as when murderous 
hatred results in a conflict that leads to the death of the 
hater; it may be gradual, as when a degenerative process 
results in impotence or extinction ; or it may be reformative, 
as when a long course of evil-doing results in all concerned 
becoming so sick of destruction and degeneration that 
they decide to change their ways, thus transforming evil 
into good. 

The evolutionary history of life clearly illustrates the 
instability of evil in the sense in which it has been defined 
above. Biological specialization may be regarded as a 
tendency on the part of a species to insist on its separate- 
ness; and the result of specialization, as we have seen, is 
either negatively disastrous, in the sense that it precludes 
the possibility of further biological progress, or positively 
disastrous, in the sense that it leads to the extinction of 
the species. In the same way intra-specific competition 
may be regarded as the expression of a tendency on the 
part of related individuals to insist on their separateness 
and independence; the effects of intra-specific competition 
are, as we have seen, almost wholly bad. Conversely, the 
qualities which have led to biological progress are the 
qualities which make it possible for individual beings 
to escape from their separateness intelligence and the 
tendency to co-operate. Love and understanding are valu- 
able even on the biological level. Hatred, unawareness, 



stupidity and all that makes for increase of separateness 
are the qualities that, as a matter of historical fact, have 
led either to the extinction of a species, or to its becoming 
a living fossil, incapable of making further biological 


Chapter XV 

T7 1 VERY cosmology has its correlated ethic. The ethic 
_l"Vi that is correlated with the cosmology outlined in the 
preceding chapter has, as its fundamental principles, these 
propositions: Good is that which makes for unity; Evil 
is that which makes for separateness. Relating these 
terms to the phraseology employed in the first chapters, 
we can say that separateness is attachment and that without 
non-attachment no individual can achieve unity either 
with God or, through God, with other individuals. In 
the paragraphs that follow I shall try to illustrate the 
application of our ethical principles in life. 

Good and evil exist on the plane of the body and its 
sensations, on the plane of the emotions, and on the plane 
of the intellect. In practice these planes cannot be separ- 
ated. Events occurring on one of the planes have their 
counterpart in events occurring upon the other planes of 
our being. It is always necessary to bear this fact in 
mind when we classify phenomena as physical, emotional 
or intellectual. But provided that we bear it in mind, 
there is no harm in our speaking in this way. This par- 
ticular classification, like every other, fails to do full 
justice to the complexities of real life; but it has the 
compensating merit of being very convenient. 

Let us begin by considering good and evil on the plane 
of the body. In general it may be said that any very 
intense physical sensation, whether pleasurable or painful, 
tends to cause the individual who feels it to identify himself 
with that sensation. He ceases even to be himself and 



becomes only a part of his body the pain-giving or 
pleasure-giving organ. Self-transcendence thus becomes 
doubly difficult though of course by no means impossible, 
as is proved by many examples of equanimity and non- 
attachment under suffering and under intense enjoyment. 
In general, however, excess of pain as of pleasure makes 
for separateness. All the oriental contemplatives are 
emphatic in their insistence on bodily health as a condition 
of spiritual union with ultimate reality. Among Christians 
there are two schools of thought that which recommends 
mortification and that which stresses the importance of 
health. Pascal may be cited as a representative of the 
^rst school, and the anonymous author of The Cloud of 
l/nknawing as a representative of the second. For Pascal, 
sickness is the truly Christian condition; for, by mechanic- 
ally freeing men from some, at least, of the passions, it 
deliv' ers th em fr m att manner of temptations and dis- 
tracti* 0118 * and prepares them for living the kind of life 
which, according to Christian ethical theory, they ought 
to li' ve - Pascal ignores the fact that sickness may create 
as n ian Y temptations and distractions as it removes 
distinctions in the form of discomfort and pain, temptations 
j n ^e form of an almost irresistible impulse to think 
exc l w sively of oneself. There is, however, an element of 
truth fo the Pascalian doctrine. When not excessive, 
sickness or physical defect may act as a reminder that 
'the 1 things of this world* are not quite so important as 
th"! animal and the social climber in us imagine them to be. 
A, mind which has made this discovery and which then 
succeeds, as a result of suitable training, in ignoring the 
distractions of pain and overcoming the temptation to 
think exclusively of its sick body, has gone far to 
achieve that 'suprarational concentration of the will,' 
at which the religious self-education aims. In proclaim- 
ing the value of sickness, Pascal is advocating the 



physiological method of training through the mastery of 
pain. We have seen already that this method is a 
dangerous one. Only too frequently pain is not mastered, 
but achieves mastery leads to attachment rather than 

This being so, we can understand why the author of 
The Cloud of Unknowing should have taken the opposite 
view to Pascal's. For him, sickness is a serious obstacle in 
the way of true devotion to God and must be reckoned 
accordingly as a form of sin. The passage in which he 
comments on certain symptoms of what we should now 
call 'neurosis' is of such interest that I make no excuse 
for quoting it in its entirety. 'Some men,' he writes, *are 
so cumbered in nice curious customs in bodily bearing 
that when they shall aught hear, they, shall writhe their 
heads on one side quaintly, and up with the chin: they 
gape with their mouths as they should hear with their 
mouth and not with their ears. Some when they should 
speak point with their fingers, or on their own breasts, or 
on theirs that they speak to. Some can neither sit still, 
stand still, nor lie still, unless they be either wagging 
with their feet, or else somewhat doing with their hands. 
Some row with their arms in time of their speaking, as 
they needed to swim over a great water. Some be ever 
more smiling and laughing at every other word that they 
speak, as they were giggling girls and nice japing jugglers. 
... I say not that all these unseemly practices be great 
sins in themselves, nor yet all these that do them be great 
sinners themselves. But I say if that these unseemly and 
unordained practices be governors of that man that doth 
them, insomuch that he may not leave them when he will, 
then I say that they be tokens of pride and curiosity of 
wit, and of unordained showing and covetyse of knowing. 
And specially they be very tokens of unstableness of heart 
and unrestfulness of mind, and specially of the lacking of 
u 305 


the work of this book ' (/.*. the work of meditation as a 
training for the mystic experience). 

This assimilation of physical deficiency to sin may seem 
somewhat ruthless and unfeeling. But if sin is to be 
judged by its results, then, of course, the author of The 
Cloud of Unknowing is quite right in reckoning among sins 
any bodily states and habits which cause a man to con- 
centrate on his own separateness, hinder him from paying 
attention to his true relation with God and his fellows 
and so make the conscious actualization of union with 
them impossible. On the plane of the body, sickness must 
generally be counted as a sin. For by sickness and pain 
as well as by extreme pleasure, the body insists on its 
separateness and all but compels the mind to identify 
itself with it. 

The saying that to him that has shall be given and from 
him that has not shall be taken away even all that he has, 
is a hard one; but it happens to be an extremely succinct 
and accurate summary of the facts of moral life. Those 
who sin physically by having some kind of bodily defect 
may be made to pay for that defect in ways that are 
emotional and intellectual as well as physical. Some sick 
people are capable of making the almost superhuman 
effort that will transform the disaster of bodily defect into 
spiritual triumph. From the rest even that which they 
have, intellectually and emotionally, is taken away. Why? 
Because, on the plane of the body, they are among those 
who have not. 'Men may be excusable/ says Spinoza, 
'and nevertheless miss happiness, and be tormented in 
many ways. A horse is excusable for being a horse and 
not a man; nevertheless he must needs be a horse and 
not a man. He who cannot rule his passions, nor hold 
them in check out of respect for the law, while he may 
be excusable on the ground of weakness, is nevertheless 
incapable of enjoying conformity of spirit and knowledge 



and love of God; and he is lost inevitably/ Weakness 
may be forgiven; but so long as it continues to be present, 
no amount of forgiveness can prevent it from having the 
ordinary results of weakness. These results are manifest 
in the present life and, if there should be some form of 
survival of bodily death, will doubtless be manifest in any 
subsequent existence. 

Sex is a physical activity that is also and at the same 
time an emotional and an intellectual activity. If I choose 
to consider it here, it is not because I regard it as more 
physical than emotional or intellectual, but merely for the 
sake of convenience. It is an empirical fact of observation 
and experience that sexual activities sometimes make for a 
realization of the individual's unity with another individual 
and, through that other individual, with the reality of the 
world; sometimes, on the contrary, for an intensification 
of individual separateness. In other words, sex leads 
sometimes to non-attachment and sometimes to attachment, 
is sometimes good and sometimes evil. 

On the plane of the body, sex is evil when it takes the 
form of a physical addiction. (All that can be said in this 
context about sex is true, mutatis mutandis, of the other 
forms of physical addiction to alcohol, for example, to 
morphia and cocaine.) Like habit-forming drugs, habit- 
forming sex is evil because it compels the mind to identify 
itself with a physical sensation and prevents it from thinking 
of anything but its separate animal existence. Addiction 
cannot be destroyed by satiation, but tends, if indulged, to 
become more than a mete habit a demoniac possession. 
This is, of course, especially true in the case of civilized 
and highly conscious individuals individuals who 'know 
better,' but who have nevertheless permitted themselves 
to become enslaved to their addiction. For uncivilized 
members of what J. D. Unwin has called 'zoistic* societies, 
or of the zoistic strata of civilized societies, sexual addiction 



is merely a pleasant habit that they indulge with a good 
conscience. It prevents them from putting forth that 
energy that will enable them to become conscious of 
themselves, to think about the strange world around them 
and to achieve civilization; but as they are unaware of 
the fact, they don't mind. Not so with civilized and 
self-conscious men and women. Of such people it cannot 
be said that 'they know not what they do/ They know 
only too well know exactly what they are doing and 
exactly what they are losing in the process. For them the 
addiction is a real possession. The demon that inhabits 
them compels them to do what they know will harm them 
and what, with the best part of their being, they do not 
want to do. The nature of this demoniac possession was 
described, with incomparable power, by Baudelaire in the 
Fleurs du Mai. 

Une nuit quefitais prbs d'une affreuse Juive y 
Comme au long d'un cadavre un cadavre ttendu . . . 

Addiction persists a true possession by a devil that 
malignantly wills the unhappiness of its victim even 
when all physical pleasure has been lost, even in the teeth 
of disgust and loathing. Like virtue, it is its own reward; 
and the reward it brings is misery and the torment of body 
and mind. 

Jamais vous ne pourre^ assouvir votre rage, 
Et votre chdtiment naitra de vosplaisirs. 

Jamais un rayon frais rliclaira vos cavernes; 
Par lesfentes des murs des miasmes fitvreux 
Filent en senflammant ainsi que des lanternes 
Et pdn&trent vos corps de leurs parfums affreux. 

L'dpre stlriliti de votre jotdssance 
Altire votre soifet roidit votre peau, 


Et It ventjuribond de la concupiscence 
Fait claquer votre chair ainsi quun vieux drapeau. 

Loin des peuples vivants^ errantes, condamnles^ 
A trovers les diserts coure^ comme des loups; 
Faites votre destin, antes disordormits^ 
Etjuye^ rinfini que vous porte^ en vous. 

The last line irresistibly recalls Royce's phrase to the 
effect that * finite beings are always such as they are by 
virtue of an inattention which at present blinds them to 
their actual relations to God and to one another/ The 
addict is blinded by his addiction to 'the infinite that he 
carries within him/ to 'his actual relations to God* and 
other beings. At the same time, he is generally aware, if 
only by a kind of nostalgia, by a hopeless longing for what 
he lacks, that 'the infinite* exists within him and that his 
'actual relations to God* are those of a part to its proper 
whole. He is aware of the fact and he suffers from it; and 
at the same time the demon he has conjured up, that it may 
possess him, deliberately increases his suffering by forcing 
him 'to fly from the infinite within him,' to refuse, con- 
sciously and deliberately, to pay attention to 'his actual 
relations with God.' 

It is not only when it takes the form of physical addiction 
that sex is evil. It is also evil when it manifests itself as a 
way of satisfying the lust for power or the climber's 
craving for position and social distinction. Love and 
this is true not only of sexual, but also of maternal love 
may be merely a device for imposing the lover's will upon 
the beloved. Between the Marquis de Sade, with his whips 
and penknives, and the doting but tyrannous mother, who 
slaves for her son in order that she may the more effectively 
dominate him, there are obvious differences in method and 
degree, but not a fundamental difference in kind. In such 
cases, the active party, by insisting on the right to bully, 



command and direct, thereby insists upon his or her 
separateness. At the same time, by refusing to respect 
the other's personality, the domineering lover makes it 
impossible for the beloved victim to pay attention to that 
'infini que vous porte^ en vous.' Addiction degrades only 
the addict. The lust for power harms not only the person 
who lusts, but also the person or persons at whose expense 
the lust is satisfied. Non-attachment becomes impossible 
for both parties. 

Sex as a means for satisfying social vanity is only less 
evil than sex as a means for satisfying the lust for power. 
There are people who marry, not a person, but money, 
a title, social influence. Sex here is the instrument of 
avarice and ambition, passions that are in the highest 
degree separative and reality-obscuring. There are others 
who marry beauty or distinction for the sole purpose of 
flaunting their exclusive possession of it before the eyes of 
an envying world. This is a special form of the lust for 
ownership, an avarice whose object is, not money, but a 
human being and that human being's socially valuable 
qualities. Such lust for ownership is as blinding and as 
separative as ordinary avarice, and can do almost as much 
harm to the owned person as the maternally or sexually 
conditioned lust for power can do to its much loved and 
much tormented victim. 

Sex is not always addiction, is not always used as an 
instrument of domination or as a means for expressing 
vanity and snobbishness. It is also and at least as frequently 
the method whereby unpossessive and unselfish individuals 
achieve union with one another and indirectly with the 
world about them. 'All the world loves a lover'; and, 
conversely, a lover loves all the world. 'That violence 
whereby sometimes a man doteth upon one creature is but 
a little spark of that love, even towards all, which lurketh 
in his nature. When we dote upon the perfections and 



beauties of some one creature, we do not love that too 
much, but other things too little. Never was anything in 
this world loved too much, but many things have been 
loved in a false way, and all in too short a measure/ 
Traherne might have added (what many poets and novelists 
have remarked) that, when 'we dote upon the perfections 
and beauties of some one creature/ we frequently find our- 
selves moved to love other creatures. Moreover, to be in 
love is, in many cases, to have achieved a state of being, 
in which it becomes possible to have direct intuition of 
the essentially lovely nature of ultimate reality. 'What 
a world would this be, were everything beloved as it 
ought to be!' For many people, everything is beloved as 
it ought to be, only when they are in love with 'some 
one creature/ The cynical wisdom of the folk affirms 
that love is blind. But in reality, perhaps, the 
blind are those who are not in love and who therefore 
fail to perceive how beautiful the world is and how 

We must now consider very briefly the relation of 
sexual activity to mental activity in individuals and to the 
cultural condition of society. This subject was discussed 
by the late Dr. J. D. Unwin, whose monumental Sex and 
Culture is a work of the highest importance. Unwin's 
conclusions, which are based upon an enormous wealth of 
carefully sifted evidence, may be summed up as follows. 
All human societies are in one or another of four cultural 
conditions: zoistic, manistic, deistic, rationalistic. Of 
these societies the zoistic displays the least amount of 
mental and social energy, the rationalistic the most. In- 
vestigation shows that the societies exhibiting the least 
amount of energy are those where pre-nuptial continence 
is not imposed and where the opportunities for sexual 
indulgence after marriage are greatest. The cultural con- 
dition of a society rises in exact proportion as it imposes 


pre-nuptial and post-nuptial restraints upon sexual oppor- 

'All the deistic societies insisted on pre-nuptial chastity; 
conversely all the societies which insisted on pre-nuptial 
chastity were in the deistic condition. 

'Is there any causal relationship between the com- 
pulsory continence and the thought, reflection and energy 
which produced the change from one cultural condition 
to another? 

'One thing is certain: if a causal relation exists, the 
continence must have caused the thought, not the thought 
the continence/ 

Again, 'the power of thought is inherent; similarly the 
power to display social energy is inherent; but neither 
mental nor social energy can be manifested except under 
certain conditions.' These conditions arise when sexual 
opportunity is reduced to a minimum. Civilized societies 
may be divided into different strata, representing every 
type of cultural condition from zoistic to rationalistic. 
'The group within the society which suffers the greatest 
continence displays the greatest energy and dominates the 
society.' The dominating group determines the behaviour 
of the society as a whole. So long as at least one stratum 
of a society imposes pre-nuptial continence upon its 
members and limits post-nuptial sexual opportunity by 
means of strict monogamy, the society as a whole will 
behave as a civilized society. 

The energy produced by sexual continence starts as 
'expansive energy' and results in the society becoming 
aggressive, conquering its less energetic neighbours, sending 
out colonies, developing its commerce and the like. But 
'when the rigorous tradition (of sexual restraint) is in- 
herited by a number of generations, the energy becomes 
productive.' Productive energy does not spend itself ex- 
clusively in expansion ; it also goes into science, speculation, 


an, social reform. Where productive energy persists for 
some time, a factor which Dr. Unwin calls * human entropy' 
comes into play. Human entropy is the inherent tendency, 
manifested as soon as the suitable social conditions are 
created, towards increased refinement and accuracy. 'No 
society can display productive social energy unless a new 
generation inherits a social system under which sexual 
opportunity is reduced to a minimum. If such a system 
be preserved a richer and yet richer tradition will be 
created, refined by human entropy/ 

As a matter of brute historical fact, no civilized society 
has tolerated for very long the limitation to a minimum 
of its sexual opportunities. Within a few generations, the 
rules imposing absolute pre-nuptial continence upon 
females and absolutely monogamous forms of marriage 
are relaxed. When this happens, the society or the class 
loses its energy and is replaced by another society, or 
another class, whose members have made themselves 
energetic by practising sexual continence. * Sometimes/ 
writes Dr. Unwin, 'a man has been heard to declare that 
he wishes both to enjoy the advantages of high culture 
and to abolish compulsory continence. The inherent nature 
of the human organism, however, seems to be such that 
these desires are incompatible, even contradictory. . . . 
Any human society is free to choose, either to display 
great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom; the evidence is 
that it cannot do both for more than one generation.' 

We have seen that, as a matter of historical fact, no 
society has consented to retain the tradition of pre-nuptial 
continence and absolute monogamy for very long. But it 
is also a matter of historical fact that these traditions have 
always hitherto been associated with the oppression of 
women and children. In deistic societies,, wives have been 
regarded as slaves or mere chattels, having no legal entity. 
Custom and law have placed them at the mercy of their 



husbands. Discussing this fact, Dr. Unwin hazards the 
opinion 'that it was the unequal fate of women, not the 
compulsory continence, that caused the downfall of absolute 
monogamy. No society has yet succeeded in regulating 
the relations between the sexes in such a way as to enable 
sexual opportunity to remain at a minimum for an extended 
period. The inference I draw from the historical evidence 
is that, if ever such a result should be desired, the 
sexes must first be placed on a footing of complete 
legal equality.' 

In this very brief summary I have certainly done much 
less than justice to Dr. Unwin's very remarkable book; 
but though doing it less than justice, I do not think that 
I have misrepresented its main conclusions. The evidence 
for these conclusions is so full, that it is difficult to see 
how they can be rejected. They are conclusions which 
will certainly seem unpalatable to the middle-aged relics 
of a liberal generation. Such liberals are liberals, not only 
politically, but also in the sense in which Shakespeare's 
* liberal shepherds' (the ones who called wild arums by a 
grosser name than dead-men's fingers) were liberal. They 
have been 'heard to declare,' very frequendy and loudly, 
that they 'wish to enjoy the advantages of high culture 
and to abolish compulsory continence.' Living as they 
do upon the capital of energy accumulated by a previous 
generation of monogamists, whose wives came to them as 
virgines intactae, they can make the best of both worlds 
during their own lifetime. Dr. Unwin's researches have 
made it certain, however, that it will be impossible for their 
children to go on making the best of both worlds. 

If Dr. Unwin's conclusions are well founded and it is 
difficult to believe that they are not how do they fit 
into our general ethical scheme? The first significant fact 
to be noticed is that 'the continence caused the thought, 
not the thought the continence.' Zoisric societies live in a 


condition of animal solidarity. In Dr. Unwin's words, 
'we begin with a society in which all the individuals are 
locked together by forces we do not understand; such a 
society displays no energy/ Now, this animal solidarity 
has certain merits; it is preferable, for example, to the 
animal individualism of unrestricted intra-specific com- 
petition. But these merits are sub-ethical; in other words, 
animal solidarity is below good and evil. People on the 
zoistic level are too much preoccupied with, and too 
completely de-energized by, unrestricted sexual indulgence 
to be able to pay attention to 'their actual relations with 
God and with one another.* Awareness is the condition 
of any moral behaviour superior to that of animals. The 
individual cannot transcend himself unless he first learns 
to be conscious of himself and of his relations with other 
selves and with the world. A measure of sexual continence 
is the pre-condition of awareness and of other forms of 
mental energy, conative and emotional as well as cognitive. 
But the pre-condition of moral behaviour need not itself 
be moral. As a matter of historical fact, the energy 
released by sexual continence has frequently been directed 
towards thoroughly immoral ends. Mental and social 
energy is comparable to the energy of falling water; it 
can be used for any purpose that men choose to put it to 
for bullying the weak and exploiting the poor just as 
well as for exploring the secrets of nature, for creating 
masterpieces of art or for establishing union with ultimate 

Chastity is one of the major virtues inasmuch as, without 
chastity, societies lack energy and individuals are con- 
demned to perpetual unawareness, attachment and animality. 
In another sense, however, chastity can rank only as a 
minor virtue; for, along with such other minor virtues as 
courage, prudence, temperance and the like, it can be 
used solely as a means for increasing the efficiency of 


evil-doing. Unless they are directed by the major virtues 
of love and intelligence, the minor virtues are not virtues 
at all, but aids to wickedness. Historically, puritanism has 
been associated with militarism and capitalism, with war 
and persecution and economic exploitation, with every 
form of power-seeking and cruelty. Chastity is not 
necessarily correlated with charity; on the contrary, the 
human organism is so constituted that there would seem 
to be a natural correlation between compulsory continence 
and energy that is malevolent at least as often as it is well- 
intentioned. (On the political results of this correlation 
Dr. Vergin's Sub-conscious Europe may be consulted; the 
book contains an over-emphatic and therefore somewhat 
distorted statement of a good case.) This natural and, 
I might almost say, physiological tendency for chastity to 
be associated with uncharitableness is manifested not only 
during the period when the energy created by sexual 
restraint is * expansive/ but also, though perhaps with 
diminished intensity, when it is 'productive.' 

Chastity, then, is the necessary pre-condition to any 
kind of moral life superior to that of the animal. At the 
same time, the energy created by chastity has a natural 
tendency to be, on the whole, more evil than good. By 
fulfilling the conditions upon which, and upon which 
alone, the higher moral life is possible, we transform our 
nature in such a way that it becomes easier for us to behave 
immorally than to behave morally. Our human nature is 
such that, if we are to realize the highest ethical ideals, we 
must do something which automatically makes the realiza- 
tion of those ideals more difficult. Historically, pro- 
gressiveness has always been associated with aggressiveness 
the potentiality of greater good with the actuality of 
greater evil. This association "comes naturally 9 to beings 
constituted as we are, and can be broken only as the result 
of deliberate choice, directed by the highest ideals and the 



fullest knowledge of facts. As usual, the remedy is to be 
sought in awareness and good will. Only by consistently 
applying the major virtues of charity and intelligence can 
we prevent the minor, but indispensable, virtue of chastity 
from filling the world with actual evil as well as potential 
good. Dr. Unwin suggests that the modern world is con- 
fronted by only two alternatives: it may choose to be 
continent and energetic; or it may prefer sexual indulgence 
to mental and social energy. It would be truer to say 
that there are three choices. First of all, we can increase pre- 
nuptial and post-nuptial sexual opportunity, in which case 
our mental and social energy will decline. Alternatively, 
we can tighten up the system of sexual restraint, with a 
view to increasing the amount, without improving the 
ethical quality, of available social energy. This is the 
policy which is at present being pursued by the dictators 
of all the totalitarian states. Empirically and by a kind of 
rule of thumb, these men know very clearly that there is a 
correlation between puritanism and energy just as they 
know (as was pointed out in the chapter on Education) 
that there is a correlation between authoritarian discipline 
in youth and a militaristic psychology in later life. By 
combining a system of increased sexual restraint with a 
system of authoritarian education, the present rulers of 
totalitarian societies are providing themselves and their 
successors with a new generation of highly energetic 
militarists. Significantly enough, in Germany and Italy 
the tightening up of sexual restraints has been accom- 
panied by a lowering of the status of women. In the 
past, as Dr. Unwin has pointed out, absolute pre-nuptial 
chastity and absolute monogamy have always been 
associated with the subjection of women. Hitler and 
Mussolini are merely employing the old means to produce 
the old end an increase of energy. This energy, as we 
have seen, has a natural tendency to take undesirable 



forms; but, not content with this spontaneous evil, the 
dictators are using all the means at their disposal to direct 
their subjects' energy along the channels of aggressive 

Finally, there is a third alternative an alternative which 
never been tried before. We can retain pre-nuptial 
chastity and absolute monogamy, at any rate for the 
ruling classes of our societies; but instead of associating 
these practices with the subjection of women, we can make 
women the legal equals of men. In this way, as Dr. 
Unwin suggests, and in this way only, will it be possible 
to avoid that revolt against chastity which, in the past, has 
resulted in the decline of once energetic societies. By 
making compulsory chastity tolerable, such measures will 
prolong the period during which a society produces 
energy will prolong it, perhaps, indefinitely. But they 
will do little or nothing to improve the ethical quality of 
the energy produced. Even the process which Dr. Unwin 
calls * human entropy* promises no ethical improvement 
only increasing refinement and accuracy of thought and its 
expression. Hitherto, as history shows, sexual restraint 
has had the following results. The moral life has been 
made possible and some at least of this potential good has 
been actualized. Meanwhile, however, in the process of 
creating the potentiality for good, much evil has invariably 
been produced. Our problem is to discover a way to 
eliminate that evil, a way to direct all the energy produced 
by sexual restraint along desirable channels. 

In the preceding chapters I have described the kind of 
political, economic, educational, religious and philosophical 
devices that must be used if we are ever to achieve the 
good ends that we all profess to desire. The energy 
created by sexual restraint is the motive power which 
makes it possible for us to conceive those desirable ends 
and to think out the means for realizing them. We see, 


then, that the particular problem of moralizing the energy 
produced i>y continence is the same as the general problem 
of realizing ideal ends. This being so, it is unnecessary 
for me to discuss it any further. The matter can be summed 
up in a couple of sentences. The third and only satisfactory 
solution of the problem of sex is that which combines 
the acceptance, at least by the ruling classes, of pre-nuptial 
chastity and absolute monogamy with complete legal 
equality between women and men and with the adoption 
of a political, economic, educational, religious, philosophical 
and ethical system of the kind described in this book. 

I have discussed the problem of good and evil on the 
plane of the body and the problem of good and evil in 
relation to sex, as manifested on all the planes of being. 
We must now consider good and evil on the plane of the 
emotions. There is very little that need be said in this 
context. All the familiar deadly sins are the product of 
separate emotions. Anger, envy, fear these insist on the 
various aspects of our animal separateness from one 
another. Sloth exists on all the planes, and can be physical, 
emotional or intellectual. In all its forms sloth is a kind 
of negative malignity a refusal to do what ought to be 

Some vices are animal, some are strictly human. The 
human vices, which are in general the most dangerous, 
the most fruitful in undeskable results, are the various 
lusts for power, social position and ownership. Pride, 
vanity, ambition and avarice are attachments to objects of 
desire which have existence only in human societies. Being 
completely dissociated from the body, such vices as lust 
for power and avarice are able to manifest themselves in 
a bewildering variety of forms and with an energy that is 
immune from the satiety which occasionally interrupts all 
physical addictions. The permutations and combinations 
of lust or of gluttony are strictly limited and their mani- 



festations are as discontinuous as physical appetite. It is 
far otherwise with the lust for power or the lust for 
possessions. These cravings are spiritual, therefore are 
unremittingly separative and evil; have no dependence on 
the body, therefore can assume almost any form. 

Under the existing dispensation, popular morality does 
not condemn the lust for power or the craving for social 
pre-eminence. European and American children are 
brought up to admire the social climber and worship his 
success, to envy the rich and eminent and at the same 
time to respect and obey them. In other words, the two 
correlated vices of ambition and sloth are held up as 
virtues. There can be no improvement in our world until 
people come to be convinced that the ambitious power- 
seeker is as disgusting as the glutton or the miser that 
'the last infirmity of noble mind* is just as much of an 
infirmity as avarice or cruelty (with one or both of which, 
incidentally, it is very often associated), just as squalidly an 
addiction, on its human plane, as any physical addiction 
to drink or sexual perversion. 

The human or spiritual vices are the most harmful in 
their results and the hardest to resist. (La Rochefoucauld 
remarks that men frequently desert love for ambition, but 
very rarely desert ambition for love.) Furthermore, their 
spiritual nature makes it hard for them to be distinguished, 
in certain of their manifestations, from virtues. This 
difficulty becomes particularly great when power, wealth 
and social position are represented as being means to 
desirable ends. (In the story of the temptation in the 
wilderness, Satan attempts to confuse the moral issue in 
precisely this way.) But good ends, that is to say a state 
of greatest possible unification, can be achieved only by 
the use of good, that is to say of intrinsically unifying 
means. Bad means activities, in other words, that pro- 
duce attachment and are intrinsically separative cannot 



produce unification. The lust for power is essentially 
separative; therefore it is not by indulging this lust that 
men can achieve the good results at which they profess to 
aim. The political techniques by means of which ambition 
can be restrained have been discussed in the chapter on 
Inequality; the educational and religious techniques, in the 
two succeeding chapters. We cannot expect that any of 
these techniques will be very successful, so long as ambition 
continues to be popularly regarded, as it is at present, as 
a virtue that should be implanted in the growing child 
and carefully fostered by precept and example. 

We have now to consider good and evil as manifested 
upon the intellectual plane. Intelligence, as we have seen, 
is one of the major virtues. Without intelligence, charity 
and the minor virtues can achieve very little. 

Intelligence may be classified as belonging to two kinds, 
according to the nature of its objects. There is the intelli- 
gence which consists in awareness of, and ability to deal 
with, things and events in the external world; and there is 
the intelligence which consists in awareness of, and ability 
to deal with, the phenomena of the inner world. In other 
words, there is intelligence in relation to the not-self 
and there is intelligence in relation to the self. The com- 
pletely intelligent person is intelligent both in regard to 
himself and to the outer world. But completely intelligent 
people are unhappily rare. Many men and women are 
capable of dealing very effectively with the external world 
in its practical, common-sense aspects, 
time incapable of understanding or 
ideas, logical relations or their own 
problems. Others again may poss 
petence in science, art or philosophy ; 
ignorant of their own nature and 
competent to control their impulses. 
* a philosopher* is a man who behavlj 
x 321 


equanimity one who loves wisdom so much that he 
actually lives like a wise man. In modern professional 
language a philosopher is one who discusses the problems 
of epistemology. It is not thought necessary that he 
should live like a wise man. The biographies of the 
great metaphysicians often make extremely depressing 
reading. Spite, envy and vanity are only too frequently 
manifested by these professed lovers of wisdom. Some 
are not even immune from the most childish animalism. 
Nietzsche's biographers record that, at the time when he 
was writing about the Superman, he was unable to control 
his appetite for jam and pastry; whenever, in his mountain 
retreat, a hamper of good things arrived for him from 
home, he would eat and eat until he had to go to bed with 
a bilious attack. Kant had a similar passion for crystallized 
fruit and, along with it, such an abhorrence for sickness 
and death that he refused to visit his friends when they 
were ill or ever to speak of them once they had died. In 
later life, moreover, he claimed a kind of infallibility, 
insisting that the boundaries of his system were the limits 
of philosophy itself and resenting all attempts by other 
thinkers to go further. The same childish self-esteem is 
observable in Hegel and many other thinkers of the 
greatest intellectual power. Such men are highly intelligent 
in certain directions, but profoundly stupid in others. 
This stupidity is, of course, a product of the will. In- 
telligent fools are people who have refused to apply their 
intelligence to the subject of themselves. There is also 
such a being as a wise fool. The wise fool is one who 
knows about himself and how to manage his passions and 
impulses, but who is incompetent to understand or deal 
with those wider, non-personal problems which can be 
solved only by the logical intellect. The wise fool does 
less harm than the intelligent fool and is personally capable 
of enlightenment. The intelligent fool, who has no 



knowledge of, or control over, himself, cannot achieve 
enlightenment so long as he remains what he is. However, 
if he so wishes, he can cease to be an intelligent fool and 
become an intelligent wise man. An intelligent wise man 
is capable not only of achieving personal enlightenment, 
but also of helping whole societies to deal with their 
major problems of belief and practice. Under the present 
dispensation, the educational system is designed to pro- 
duce the greatest possible number of intelligent fools. We 
inspire children with the wish to be intelligent about the 
phenomena of the external world and about abstract ideas 
and logical relations; at the same time we teach them the 
techniques by which this wish can be gratified. Meanwhile, 
however, we make very little effort to inspire them with 
the wish to be intelligent about themselves and, on the 
rare occasions when we do make this effort, we provide 
them with no devices for training the inward-turning 
intelligence to perform its task efficiently. 

One cannot deal intelligently with any matter about 
which one is ignorant. If one is to deal intelligently with 
oneself one must be aware of one's real motives, of the 
secret sources of one's thoughts, feelings and actions, of 
the nature of one's sentiments, impulses and sensations and 
of the circumstances in which one is liable to behave well 
or badly. In general, it may be said that, on the intellectual 
plane, good is that which heightens awareness, especially 
awareness of oneself. No self can go beyond the limits 
of selfhood, either morally (by the practice of the virtues 
that break attachment) or mystically (by direct cognitive 
union with ultimate reality), unless it is fully aware of 
what it is, and why it is what it is. Self-transcendence is 
through self-consciousness. A human being who spends 
most of his waking life either day-dreaming, or in a state 
of mental dissipation, or else identifying himself with 
whatever he happens to be sensing, feeling, thinking or 



doing at the moment, cannot claim to be fully a person. 
McTaggart has objected that 'to call a conscious being a 
self (or personality) only when it was self-conscious would 
involve that each of us would gain and lose the right to 
the name many times a day/ Moreover, he adds, there is 
'a more serious difficulty.' We are invited to define 
personality as being conscious of self. And consciousness 
of self is a complex characteristic which can be defined 
only when it is known what we mean by a self. There- 
fore, if self means the same on the two occasions when 
it enters into the statement, ' a self is that which is self- 
conscious/ we have a circular and unmeaning definition 
of selfhess.' It is quite true that such a definition is 
circular and unmeaning. But the facts of personality are 
not adequately accounted for in such a definition. Per- 
sonality is not, as we have seen, an absolutely independent 
existent; persons are interdependent parts of a greater 
whole. In the common-sense universe, however, they 
possess a relative autonomy. There are degrees in this 
relative autonomy. Only when it has attained to the 
highest of these degrees does a personality become able, 
as all the mystics bear witness, to transcend itself and 
merge into the ultimate impersonal reality substantial to 
the world. To say that ' a self is that which is self-conscious * 
is, of course, merely to make an unmeaning noise. But it 
is not absurd to say that 'there is an X (the totality of a 
human being's animal and conscious life) which emerges 
into selfhess, or personality, when there is consciousness 
of X.' That this definition involves each of us gaining 
and losing the right to the name of a person many times 
a day is no objection to the definition. Such happens to 
be the nature of things. The greater part of the life of the 
greater number of human beings is sub-personal. They 
spend most of their time identified with thoughts, feelings 
and sensations which are less than themselves and which 



lack even that relative autonomy from the external world 
and their own psychological and physiological machinery, 
belonging to a genuine full-grown person. This sub- 
personal existence can be terminated at will. Anybody 
who so desires and knows how to set about the task can 
live his life entirely on the personal level and, from the 
personal level, can pass, again if he so desires and knows 
how, to a super-personal level. This super-personal level 
is reached only during the mystical experience. There is, 
however, a state of being, rarely attained, but described by 
the greatest mystical writers of East and West, in which 
it is possible for a man to have a kind of double conscious- 
ness to be both a full-grown person, having a complete 
knowledge of, and control over, his sensations, emotions 
and thoughts, and also, and at the same time, a more than 
personal being, in continuous intuitive relation with the 
impersonal principle of reality. (St. Teresa tells us that, 
in 'the seventh mansion,' she could be conscious of the 
mystical Light while giving her full attention to worldly 
business. Indian writers say that the same is true of those 
who have attained the highest degree of what they call 

It is clear, then, that if we would transcend personality, 
we must first take the trouble to become persons. But we 
cannot become persons unless we make ourselves self- 
conscious. In one of the discourses attributed to the 
Buddha, we read an interesting passage about the self- 
possessed person. 'And how, brethren, is a brother self- 
possessed? ... In looking forward and in looking back 
he acts composedly (i.e. with consciousness of what is 
being done, of the self who is doing and of the reasons 
for which the self is performing the act). In bending or 
stretching arm or body he acts composedly. In eating, 
drinking, chewing, swallowing, in relieving nature's needs, 
in going, standing, sitting, sleeping, waking, speaking, 



keeping silence, he acts composedly. That, brethren, is 
how a brother is self-possessed.' 

In the last paragraphs of the chapter on Education 
I have described a technique of physical training (that 
developed by F. M. Alexander), which is valuable, among 
other reasons, as a means for increasing conscious control 
of the body and, in this way, raising a human being from 
a condition of physical unawareness to a state of physical 
self-consciousness and self-control. Such physical self- 
awareness and self-control leads to, and to some extent is 
actually a form of, mental and moral self-awareness and 

Of the purely psychological methods of heightening the 
awareness of self it is unnecessary to say very much. 
Self-analysis, periodical analysis at the hands of others, 
habitual self-recollectedness and unremitting efforts to 
resist the temptation to become completely identified with 
the thoughts, feelings, sensations or actions of the moment 
these are the methods which must be employed. If 
they are not already known, they can easily be reinvented 
by all who choose to think about the problem. There is 
nothing abstruse about the theory of these methods of 
heightening self-consciousness. The principle is simple. 
What is difficult, as always, is its application in practice. 
To know is relatively easy; to will and consistently to do 
is always hard. 

It is sufficiently obvious that the systematic cultivation 
of self-awareness may as easily produce undesirable as 
desirable results. The development of personality may be 
regarded as an end in itself or, alternatively, as a means 
towards an ulterior end the transcendence of personality 
through immediate cognition of ultimate reality and 
through moral action towards fellow individuals, action 
that is inspired and directed by this immediate cognition. 
Where personality is developed for its own sake, and not 



in order that it may be transcended, there tends to be a 
raising of the barriers of separateness and an increase of 

Under the Christian dispensation, personality has 
generally been developed in relation to the prevailing 
doctrines of sin and of personal salvation at the hands of 
a personal deity. The results have been on the whole 
distinctly unsatisfactory. Thus, the obsessive preoccupation 
with sin and its consequences, so characteristic of Pro- 
testantism in the generations immediately following the 
Reformation, only too frequently produced an obsessive 
preoccupation with the separate self and its lusts for power 
and possessions. Modern capitalism and imperialism have 
a number of different causes; but among these causes 
must be numbered the Protestant and Jansenist habit of 
brooding on sin, damnation and an angry God, arbitrarily 
dispensing or withholding grace and forgiveness. 

It is interesting, in this context, to compare the orthodox 
Calvinist attitude towards sin with that which was taken 
up by such mystics as Eckhart or the author of The Cloud 
of Unknowing. These writers did not minimize the signifi- 
cance of sin; on the contrary, they regarded it as the chief 
obstacle in the way of the soul's union with God. But 
they saw that sin was the fruit of self-will and that self- 
will, in Bradley's words, 'is opposition attempted by a 
finite subject against its proper whole.' The important 
thing, they perceived, was to get rid of self-will and to 
cultivate, as quickly as possible, a state of being, propitious 
to knowledge of, and union with, ultimate reality. Such 
a state of being, they found empirically, could be reached 
by the practice of virtue and the raising of consciousness, 
first to the level of self-awareness, then, by means of 
meditation, to awareness of God. Obsessive preoccupation 
with past sins, they perceived, could result only in pre- 
occupation with the self which they were so anxious to 



transcend. For this reason there is no insistence in the 
writings of Eckhart and the author of The Cloud of Un- 
knowing upon their own or other peopled sinfulness. 
They do not talk about themselves as miserable sinners; 
nor do they advise others to do so. They know, of course, 
that men are sinners and that sin is a barrier standing 
between souls and their God. Therefore, they say, men 
should make themselves aware of their sins and, having 
done so, proceed to stop sinning; after which they should 
concentrate all their attention on God and ignore the 
extremely uninteresting and unprofitable subject of their 
past, sinful selves. 'It is a great grace of God/ says 
St. Teresa, 'to practise self-examination; but too much 
is as bad as too little, as they say; believe me, by God's 
help, we shall advance more by contemplating the Divinity 
than by keeping our eyes fixed on ourselves/ Modern 
theologians, such as Otto, have blamed Eckhart for not 
being sufficiently conscious of his sinfulness, and have 
contrasted him unfavourably in this respect with Luther, 1 
who spent his early manhood in the terrified conviction 
that he was 'gallow-ripe/ It is legitimate to enquire how 
far this conviction of his own ripeness for the gallows 
was the cause of that later conviction, expressed so forcibly 
a few years later, that the German peasants were ripe for 
the gallows and deserved extermination and enslavement 
at the hands of the ruling classes. There is a logical and a 
psychological connection between obsession with one's 
own sins and obsession with those of others, between 
haunting terror of an angry personal God and an active 
desire to persecute in the name of that God. At the risk 
of wearying my reader, I must repeat, for the thousandth 
time, that the tree is known by its fruits. The fruits of 
such doctrines as are taught by Eckhart, the author of 

1 See Mysticism East and West, by Rudolf Otto (New York, 
1932), p. 129. 



The Cloud and the oriental mystics whom they so closely 
resemble, are peace, toleration and charity. The fruits of 
such doctrines as are taught by Luther and St. Augustine 
are war and the organized malice of religious persecution 
and the organized falsehood of dogmatism and censorship. 
On this point, it seems to me, the historical evidence is 
clear and explicit. Those who consider that the meta- 
physical theories of Luther and Augustine correspond 
more closely to the nature of ultimate reality than do the 
theories of Eckhart, Sankhara, or the Buddha must be ready 
to affirm the proposition that evil is the result of acting 
upon true beliefs about the universe and that good is the 
result of acting upon false beliefs. All the evidence, however, 
supports the opposite conclusion that false beliefs result 
in evil and that true beliefs have fruits that are good. 
What we think determines what we are and do, and con- 
versely, what we are and do determines what we think. 
False ideas result in wrong action; and the man who makes 
a habit of wrong action thereby limits his field of con- 
sciousness and makes it impossible for himself to think 
certain thoughts. In life, ethics and metaphysics are inter- 
dependent. But ethics include politics and economics; 
and whether ethical principles shall be applied well or 
badly or not at all depends on education and on religion 
in so far as it is a system of self-education. We see then, 
that, through ethics, all the activities of individuals and 
societies are related to their fundamental beliefs about the 
nature of the world. In an age in which the fundamental 
beliefs of all or most members of a given society are the 
same, it is possible to discuss the problems of politics, or 
economics, or education, without making any explicit 
reference to these beliefs. It is possible, because it is 
assumed by the author that the cosmology of all his readers 
will be the same as his own. But at the present time there 
are no axioms, no universally accepted postulates. In 



these circumstances a discussion of political, economic or 
educational problems, containing no reference to funda- 
mental beliefs, is incomplete and even misleading. Such 
a discussion is like Hamlet, if not without the Prince of 
Denmark, at least without the Ghost or any reference to 
the murder of the Prince's father. 

In the present volume I have tried to relate the problems 
of domestic and international politics, of war and economics, 
of education, religion and ethics, to a theory of the ultimate 
nature of reality. The subject is vast and complex; this 
volume is short and the knowledge and abilities of the 
author narrowly limited. It goes without saying that the 
task has been inadequately performed. Nevertheless, I 
make no apologies for attempting it. Even the fragmentary 
outline of a synthesis is belter than no synthesis at all. 



Abyssinia, Conquest of, 144, 201 

Acting, 205 

Acton, Lord, 238 

Advertising, 216 ff. 

Aggressiveness, historically associated 

with progressiveness, 21, 316 
Albigensians, 246; massacre of, 284 
Alexander, F. NL, 223, 326 
Allerton, Robert, 237 
Ambition, 321 
American Brown Boveri Corporation, 


American Dental Congress, 259 
Amritsar massacre, 18, 189 
Analysis (selO, need of, 326 
Anarchists, 61, 70 
Ancon, Treaty of, 1x5 
Anselm, 278 
Antioch College, 169, 203; system of 

education at, 203, 204 
Aquinas, 278 

Arica, Tacna and, provinces o 1 1 5, 1 16 
Arnold, Dr., of Rugby, 187 
Aryan race, 67 
Asceticism, 232 
Ashburton, Lord, 116, 117 
Associations of devoted individuals, 

128 ff. 

Ataturk, Kemal, 249, 250 
Augustine, 240 
Austrian government, 147; and Italy, 


Avalon, Arthur, 234 
Awareness, 221 
Aztecs, 241, 242 

Babbitt, Prof. Irving, quoted, 247, 248, 

286, 293, 299 
Bacon, Francis, quoted, 88 
Baker, Noel, 104 n. 
Baudelaire, 308, 309 
B.B.C., the, 49, 86 
Bedlam, 142 
Behanan's Yoga, 234 n. 
Behaviourism, 2, 19, 257 

Belgium, 65 

Beliefs, 252-302 

Benedicrinism, 132-13$; and revival 
of agricultural life, 136 

Beraadotte, 149 

Bernard, St., 290 

Bethlehem Hospital, state of, 142 

Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, 

Bhakti-Marga, 234 ff. 

Bismarck, non-violent resistance 
against, 147 

Black Mountain College, 80 

Blake, William, Prophetic Books of, 167 

Body and Mind, relation between, 258 

Boer War, 140 

Bolsheviks, iron dictatorship of the, 28 

Bona, Cardinal, 292 

Boulding, Kenneth, quoted, 153 

British Medical Association, 96 

British Navy League, 119 

Broad, Prof. C D., 259, 260 

Brunschvicg, quoted, 278, 279 

Bryce, Studies in History and Juris- 
prudence, quoted, 57 

Buddha, teachings of; 5, 21, 32, 57, 92, 
93, X3j, 208, 226, 227, 235, 243, 
245-247, 249, 282, 291, 294, 297, 
325, 329 

Buddhist Lodge, 246 n. 

Burtt, 268. 

Calvin, 240, 241 
Campbell-Bannerman, 140 
Catharists, 284 
Centralization, Chapter VII 
Centralization and Decentralization, 


Chapman, Dom John, 243, 292, 293 
Charity, progress in, 6 
Chase, Stuart, quoted, 200 
Chastity, 3x5 
Chile and Peru, dispute between, 1x5, 

Chinese, the, 91; padfistic ideals of, 



Cistercian Reform, 135, 136; agri- 
cultural revival by Cistercians, 136 
Cloud of Unknowing, The, 221, 291, 

304, 305 
Cluny, 135 
Cobbett, 79 
Colonies, use of, 107 
Communism, 6, 20; Russian, 35; and 

authoritarian state, 61 ; violence of 

Communists, 67, 72, 124, 130; 

military organization, 133, 145, 283 
Community sense, decline of the, 77 
Competition, evil effects of intra- 

spectfic, 262 
Comte, 228, 229 
Confucianism, 91, 92 
Continence (sexual) and social energy, 

311 ff. 

Co-operatives, 85 
Council of Action, 152 
Crlbillon, 273 
Criminals, non-violent treatment of, 


Crowd emotion, 72 
Cruelty, 17 

Darwinism, 274 


Decentralization, Chapter VII 

Decentralization, Centralization, and 
Self-Government, 61-88 

Descartes, 278 

Dewey, Prof. John, 223 

Dhammapaddy 241 

Dictators and religion, 250 

Dictatorship, 7, 19, 29, 57; military, 
26; proletariat, 61, 63; insecurity 
of, 64, 66, 67; success of, 72; and 
national vanity, 97, the two Fascist 
dictators, 103; and sport, 188, 250 

' Dirtless ' farming, 44 

Disarmament Conference of 1932-34, 
1 1 8, 119 

Discipline in schools, its relation to 
militarism, 181 ff. 

Disease, mind and, 258; sin and, 

Dissociation of arbitrarily associated 
ideas, 217 

Divine, Father, 237 

Divinism, 236, 237 

Douglas, Major, 153 

Dubreuil, Hyacinthe, 74 75, 3i *4, 


Duke University, 259 
Durkheim, 94 

Eastman, Max, 163 
Eckhart, 227 n., 298, 327, 328, 329 
Economic self-sufficiency, 41 
Eden, Mr., and armaments, 1 10 
Education, 177-224 
Egypt, 147 

Electricity Board, 49, 86 
Energy, its relation to sexual con- 
tinence, 312, 318 
Equality, 169 

Esdaile, surgical technique of, 259 
Eskimos, 90 
Ethics, 303-330 
Evil, problem of, 301 ft 
Evolution, 260 ff. 
Examinations, 194 

Fabians, 31, 86 

Faith, 285 

Fanning, 'dirtless,' 44, 45 

Fascism, 6, 19, 32, 33, 34, 36, 40, yo; 

Fascist aggression, 65, 66, 67, 72; 

military organization, 133, 147; 

war against, 152, 283 
Fichte, 26 
Finns, the, and Russian oppression, 


Food supply, 43 
Fourierists, 61 
France, 65 

Franco-Prussian War, 95 
Frazer, 37, 38 

French Revolution, too, 102, 144 
Freudians, 177, 178 
Frost, Bede, quoted, 246 n. 9 293 
Fry, Elizabeth, 143 
Fuehrers, 88 

Gandhi, 146, 147 
Garibaldi, iff 
faultier, Jules de, 206 
Geden, Prof., 243 
George, Rt Hon. D. Lloyd, 152 
Gericke, Prof., and 'dirtless Bum- 
ing,' 44 



Glory, desire for, 101 

Gnostic sects, 226, 227 

God, conceived as personal, 23$ ff.; 
arguments for the existence of, 
277 ff.; conceived as impersonal, 
292 ff. 

Goebbels, 67 

Golden Age, z 

Gregg, Richard, quoted, 139, 151 

Gregory the Great, 132 

Gresham's Law, 213 

Griffin, An Alternative to Rearmament, 

Groups, distinguished from crowds, 
71 ff. ; for purposes of meditation, 

Hague Court, the, 117 

Halbwachs, 94 

Haldane, 261, 262 

Hamilton, Alexander, 109 

Hammonds, 200 

Hastings' Encyclopaedia of Religion and 

Ethics, 292 
Heard, Gerald, 123 
Hegel, 6, 29, 58, 67, 171, 253, 322 
Hinduism, 5, 92, 135, 146, 226, 227, 

245, 246, 289, 290, 291, 294 
' Historicalness,' 66-69 
History, scientific and non-scientific, 

Hitler, 19, 34, 61, 67, 92, 103, 112, 145, 

171, 242, 250, 317 

Hiuen Tsiang, Chinese pilgrim, 245 
Holland, 65; crime in, 142 
Hoover, President, 1 16 
Howard, John, 142, 143 
Hughan, J. W., 146 
Hume, 267, 278, 284 
Hungarians, 147 
Huxley, T. H., 228 

Ibn Saud, 25 1 
Ideal individual, the, 2 
Ignatian order, 133 
Ignorance, mosdy vincible, 270 
Illness as sin, 305 
Imitation of Christ, 5, 127 
Income, optimum, 161-162; in- 
equalities in, 162 

India, 18; Amritsar massacre, 18, 189; 

British Conquest o, 27; pacifism, 

92, 146; non-co-operation, 147; 

religion of, 232-235, 243 
Indians, Zufti, 20; Pueblo, 20, 21; 

American, 23, 27 
Inequality, 161-176 
Inhibition in education, 222 
Intelligence, definition of, 321 ff. 
'International Police Force,' 112, 113, 

114, 1x8 
Italians, the, 67, 155; governed by 

Austrians, 155, 250, 251; Mussolini, 

*9 3*, <$i, 9*> MS, *$o, 251, 317 

Jacobins, iron dictatorship of, 26, 28; 
leaders, 145 

Japan, 81, 82, 92; activities in Man- 
churia, 103; Japanese Christians, 
139; Japanese Samurai, 182, 183; 
Buddhism, 243 ; Zen mind-training, 
251 n. 

Jesuits, i32ff., 177,243,292 

Jesus, 238 

Tews, Hitler and the, 242 
ohn of the Cross, St., 135, 290, 292 
ung, 177 

Kaganovitch, 83 

Kant, Critical Philosophy of, 278, 322 

Keith, Sir Arthur, 90 

Kellogg, Prof., 266 

Kiel, Treaty of, 149 

Kierkegaard, 240 

Knowledge as a function of being, 287 

Kossuth, 147 

Kretschmer, 165 

Kshatriyas in India, a 

Kulturkampf, 147 

Labour Movement, British (1920), 147 

Labour Party, 112, 114 

Lamarckism, 261 

Lamettrie, 272, 274 

Lao Tsu, 5, 91, 92, 226 

La Rochefoucauld, quoted, 320 

Laski, Prof., 26, 48 

Lassiter, General, 116 

Lataste, Marie, 290, 291 

Leadership, the problem of, 172 ff. 



League of Nations, failure o 108; 
refusal of America to join, 108; a 
league of societies organized for 
war, 109, 121; League Covenant, 
109, no, in, iia, 114, 115, 117; 
and colonies, 110 

Lenin, 61, 75, x?i 

Lestrange, Dom Augustine de, 130 

Leuba, Prof., quoted^ 236 

Ligt, Bartheiemy de, quoted^ 25, 139 

London Passenger Transport Board, 

Loyola, militarism of, 132, 133; and 
non-attachment, 134; exercises of, 


Lunatics, non-violent treatment of, 142 

Luther, 328 

Lynd, 7 8 

McDonagh, ). . R., 258 n. 

Machiaveili, 6, 33 

McTaggart, 295, 324 

Maine and New Brunswick, boundary 

between, 1x6, 117 
Mallarme*, 286 

Mandate System, 119, 120, 121 
Marett, Dr. R. R., 6, 25 
Marx, Karl, x, 61, 62, 272 
Material universe, nature o 274 ff. 
Meaninglessness, philosophy of, 267, 

273 ff. 

Mecbanomorphic cosmology, 123, 124 
Meditation, practical value of, 248 ff.; 

as a method of acquiring knowledge, 

Metaphysics, practical significance of, 

252; relations with ethics, 329 
Meyerson, Emile, n, auottd> 12 n., 253 
Mind, nature of, 256 n.; and physical 

disease, 258-259 
Mitrany, Prof. David, 86 
Monasticism, 1 29 ; Benedictine, x 32-136 
Montessori, 181, 182; Society of 

Germany, 185; activities in Italy, 

185, 201, 202 

Morgan, Dr. A. E., 169, 202, 203 
Mussolini, 19, 32, 61, 92, 155, 250, 251, 

Mysticism, 235, 246 ff., 286 ff. 

Nationalism, 26, 40; as a cause of war, 

for war, 106 

Naval Conference of 1927, 118 
Nazi creed, 26, 82, 130, 283 
Nerdat, Andrea de, 273 
Netherlands, King of the, 116 
New Brunswick, Maine and, 1x6 
New Commonwealth, the, 112, 114 
' New Harmony,' 120 
Newport News Shipbuilding and 

Drydock Company, 1x8 
Nietzsche, 6, 322 
Non-attachment, 3-6, 8, 16, 2x, 72, 12$, 

131* 134, 3o 

Non-co-operation, 147, 155 
Non-violence, 70, 126, 128, 139, 140, 

141-144, I46-M9, 155, M* 
Nordics, 242 
Norway, 149 
Noyes, J. H., 129, 130, 206 

Old Testament, 283 
Oneida Community, 130 
Otto, 328 ft. 
Owen, Robert, 129 

Panglossian fatalism, 68 

Paranoiac*, 70 

Pascal, quoted, 281, 304, 305, 306 

Peace Pledge Union, 184 

Peaceful change, the machinery of, 114 

Pedro de Alcantara, San, 248 

Penn, 27 

Persecution, historically related to 

belief in personal God, 245 
Pcrshing, General, 116 
Persians, the, and tobacco monopoly, 


Personal God. See God 
Peru, Chile and, dispute between, 1x5 
Philosophers, their theories contrasted 

with their practices, 322 
Philosophic Radicals, 61 
Physical education, need for, 220 rt 
Pinel, 142 

Planned Society, 31-55 
Planned Society, 46 n. 
Planning, its results, 38; may increase 

risks of war, 51 
Pogroms, 64 
Population, decline of, 54 
Port of London Authority, 49, 8f 



Port of New York Authority, 49 

Positivism, 274 

Power, lust for, 19 

Preventive ethics, i(5 

Prison Discipline Society, 143 

Prison reform, 142 

Prisons, 142, 143 

Progress, definition of, 6; in Roman 

and British Empires, 27 
Propaganda, 157; new methods o 211 ; 

need to build up resistance to, 212 fT. 
Proudhonian Mutualists, 61 
Prussia, Westerwald district of, 131 
Psychical Research, Society for, 259 
Psycho-analysis, 2 
Psycho-physiological types, 164 ff. 
Pueblo Indians, 20, 21 
Puritans, the, 182, 183 

Quakers, 132, 133, 134, 249 

Raiffeisen, 131 

Reality, ultimate, 297 

Red Indian problem, 27 

Reform, individual work for, 126-160 

Religion and dictators, 250 

Religious Practices, 225-251 

Religious self-education, physiological 
methods in, 232; emotional 
methods, 234 ff.; method of medi- 
tation, 247 ff. 

Renouvier, 145 

Rhine, Prof., 259 

Righteous indignation, 239 

Risorgimento, 155 

Rites, 226 ff. 

Ritual in religion, 228 ff., 248 

Robespierre, 145 

Roman Catholics, pacifism among, no 

Roosevelt, President, and techno- 
logical progress, 53 

Rousseau, 165 

Royce, 298 

Russell, Bertrand, in, 181, 201 

Russia, 19, 20, 34, 148; Communist 
Party in, 35, 82, 83; agriculture in, 
47; Trotskyite opposition, 48; 
collective ownership in, 50; birth- 
rate o 54; present Russian state, 
61; Tolstoyans, 61; self-govern- 
ment, 82, 84; Soviet, 82, 83, 163, 
171, 181; Soviet suggestion of dis- 

armament, 119; threatened attack 
on, 152; aim of revolutionaries, 
146; and Germany, 103; Tsarist 
regime, 146; Finns and Russian 
oppression, 147; Stalin's police, 
155; Education, 185, 186, 2031 
anti-God campaigns, 250 
Ruysbroeck, 286 

Sacramentalism, 293 

Sade, Marquis de, 6, 219, 270272, 309 

Salp&riere, 142 

Sanctions, military, 109, 112 

Sanctions, economic and military, 109, 

III, 112, Il8 

Sankhara, 329 

Savages, non-violent treatment of, 143 

Schucker, Thomas, 239 

Schweitzer, Dr. A., 299 

Science, definition of, 253; its picture 
of the material world, 253 ff. 

Scott, Peter, 172 n. 

Seabrook, W. B., Asylum, 142 

Sedition BUI, 65 

Selders, 104 n. 

Self-government and co-operative 
enterprise, 85 ; in schools, 202 

Sex, 307 ff.; and the origin of war, 90; 
freedom in matters of, 273 

Shearer, Mr., 118 

Sheldon, Dr. W., 165 

Sickness as sin, 305 

Sin Wan Poo, 92 

Smith, Elliot, 265 

Smyth-Pigott, 239 

Social Democratic Party, 147 

Social reform, 16-24, 25-30 

Socialism, state, 62, 85 

Society of Friends, 132 

Spain, 18; Civil War in, 103, 156; 
Protestant heretics in, 139; Re- 
public, 145 

Spinoza, 5, 288, 306 

Spiritual exercises, Chapter XIII 

Sport, i87& 

Stalin, 34, 61 

Stockard, quoted, 164 

Stoics, 5, 226, 277 

Suicide rate, decline of, in war time, 94 

Suttie, Dr., quoted, 180 

Sweden, 149 

Syndicalists, 61 



Synthesis of scientific knowledge, need 
for, 276 

Tacna and Arica, provinces of, 115, 


Tao Te Ching, the, 282 
Tauler, John, 5 
Tawney, 183, 209 n. 
Technology, 8, 21, 42, 43, 53, 158, 160 
Telepathy, 259 
Teresa, St, 325, 328 
Theism. See God 
Tillyard, A., quoted, 246 n. 
Tolstoyans, 61 
Traheme, 311 
Trappists, 130 

Treaty of Versailles, 112, 140 
Types (Human) classification of, 

164 ff. 

* Uchronia,* 14? 

Union of Democratic Control, 104 n. 

United States, 83 ; and dispute between 
Chile and Peru, 1x5, 116; Anglo- 
American dispute over boundary 
between Maine and New Brunswick, 
xx6, 145 

Unity, good is that which makes for, 

Unwin, Dr. J. D., 90, 307, 3> 
317, 318 

Utopia, short cut to, i, 25 


Vergin, Dr., 316 

Versailles, Treaty of, 112, 140 

Violence, 25 ff., 139^ 

Violence, Social Reform and, 25-30 

Voltaire, 165 

War, 89-125 ; nature of, 89-94; causes 
of, 94-108; remedies and alter- 
natives, 108-125; conditions in 
which war may lead to lasting 
settlement, 139; not remediable by 
economic reforms alone, 153 

War Resisters' International, 151 

War Resisters League, 146 

Weber, Max, 91. 183 

Webster, Daniel, 116, 117 

Wells, H. G., quoted, 178 

Whitehead, Prof., 250, 294, 301 

Willcox, Dr., and agro-biologists, 44, 

Wilson, President, Fourteen Points o 

Women, position of, 313 

Yale Review, 86 

Yang Sen, General, 92 

Yoga, methods of, 233, 234, 247 

Zaharoff, Sir Basil, 106 
Zuni Indians, 20 

Printed in Great Britain 

by T. and A. CONSTABLE LTD., Hopctoun Street 
Printers to the University of Edinburgh